The AFC North may not be in the Super Bowl this year, but it remains the best overall conference in the NFL…as far as we’re concerned, anyway. As such, while the NFL celebrates the notion of the “Pro Bowl” this week, I’ll run down the latest news items and discussions regarding our favorite teams. Onward…
Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the Ravens’ first Super Bowl win, and that day’s winning QB still harbors some resentment over his release mere weeks after their 34-7 thrashing of the Giants. Given the Ravens’ results the following season, Dilfer may have a point; his replacement showed little connection to the rest of the incumbent roster, and he subsequently retired after a disappointing, inconsistent 2001 season, while Dilfer went on to perform respectably for the Seahawks in an occasional starting role. Ravens fans have deliberated for two decades over this topic to little effect, as it’s impossible to know how Dilfer would have continued to perform going forward, considering his overall track record was less than encouraging.
Speculation abounds for the status of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, last seen commiserating with presumably-retiring C Maurkice Pouncey during the last minutes of their playoff loss to the Browns, regarding his own retirement plans, should they actually exist. Roethlisberger has been predictably silent on the issue as the Steelers reorder their coaching staff and front office, but at least one former teammate seems to feel it’s time for Roethlisberger to move on. My take, and I suspect this relates to most, is that “Big” Ben has earned the right to decide what he wants to do, and it’s expected the Steelers brass would accommodate any decision he makes. It should be noted that Roethlisberger has a highly-prohibitive cap number for 2021 – $41 million – but a dead money hit of roughly half that, so it may actually be in the Steelers’ interest to cut him should they choose, although it seems very unlikely. Stay tuned.
The Bengals’ press seems centered around the idea that several 2021 jilted head coaching candidates will be available for the Bengals after the 2021 season should they choose to sever ties with current head coach Zac Taylor. With thematically-identical articles appearing here and here, it’s hard to think this is an idle, randomly-speculated idea. Taylor may not have produced the win totals fans might want, but in this author’s opinion, he’s done a respectable job with the dwindling talent he’s had available, and barring a miraculous personnel shift, his results in 2021 may not look much different overall. The Bengals are not known for moving on from head coaches quickly, so I wouldn’t expect any changes unless Taylor truly fails miserably.
Browns Pro Bowl DE Myles Garrett hasn’t shied away from controversy in recent years, although his comments at a Pro Bowl event were hardly that. Any scenario that involves Garrett and the Steelers is instantly tabloid news courtesy of 2019’s helmet-bashing incident, even after three relatively peaceful outings between these teams during the 2020 season. Fans of all stripes can’t help but tune in for bad player behavior when it occurs, but it seems all parties have had enough and are prepared to move on. Garrett’s reputation seems fully rehabilitated at this point, so it’s doubtful we’ll see similar occurrences, at least from him, anytime soon.
Enjoy the week!