Speaking of which…

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    Not much to report in the AFC North this week.

    As the last AFC North team in action, the Ravens are producing news of a sort, but let’s be honest – how many human interest stories does the public really need to see?  We know all about Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson’s humble, grassroots beginnings.  We know how much effort he puts into his game.  And we’re certainly aware of how…beloved…he is in Baltimore, and in many ways, across the country.  Given his rapid ascension to the top of the QB single-season statistics list, I would expect this sort of media fawning to continue until the Ravens lose (if they do), thereby giving the media another target to salivate over – “the team/guy/play that beat Lamar Jackson”.  Speaking of which…

    For all his regular season prowess, some skepticism remains about Jackson’s playoff performance.  With a one-game sample for critics to point to, some are predicting Jackson will not be able to withstand “playoff pressure”.  Disregarding the enormous strides – in every sense – Jackson’s made this season is decidedly foolish; he seems to be fully cognizant of the impact of that loss and has assumed responsibility for it.  “I still haven’t played my second playoff game, yet, “says Jackson. “So when we get into that, when I’m in that game, after that game, then I have an answer for that. But that game (2018 playoff loss) is over with. We’ve been having a great year this year, and we just have to keep it going. Like I said, I want a Super Bowl, so I’m not really worried about that, that first playoff game. That was my rookie season.”  Speaking of which…

    Who are the AFC North offensive and defensive Rookies of the Year?  Considering the candidates, the defensive slate isn’t close; I have to go with the Steelers’ Devin Bush, who amply provided the internal coverage and consistent tackling missing from this defense since the loss of ILB Ryan Shazier in 2017.  A distant second: Bengals’ LB Germaine Pratt, who quietly put together a quality performance in a lost season.  Picking the offensive representative is much more challenging, but I have to be objective and give it to Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, who stepped up for his team when needed and displayed more poise than expected.  The Ravens’ Marquise Brown is the bridesmaid here, although his effort during a recuperative season shouldn’t be overlooked.  Congratulations to the Steelers for sweeping this category for 2019!  Let’s hope these guys continue to have success.  Speaking of which…

    The Browns clearly didn’t enjoy the success in 2019 most assumed they would, but help may be on the way.  This writer (thumbs chest) is endorsing former Lions coach and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to fill the Browns’ head coaching vacancy.  Schwartz, who interviewed for the job yesterday, is a no-nonsense “x’s and o’s” sort of coach that wouldn’t demand full personnel control, is obviously an experienced NFL man, and has professed to be a proponent of discipline, which this Browns team sorely needs.  With some minor tweaks, this could still be a formidable roster, and a guy like Schwartz would surely recognize that and have enough acumen to augment it accordingly.  He may not be the prominent name and crowd-pleaser fans want, but of the current slate of candidates, he appears the most prepared to do the job and the most likely to understand what the job entails.  Speaking of which…

    The Bengals remain committed to head coach Zac Taylor, whose coaching debut in 2019 was sabotaged by a shallow, talent-bereft roster he had little control in assembling.  The upcoming draft obviously will be crucial to the team’s future, but as they’re presumably getting last year’s #1 pick, LT Jonah Williams, back for 2020 after being sidelined due to a knee injury, it’ll seem like a substantial bonus.  Although many expect the Bengals to use the first overall pick on LSU QB Joe Burrow, it’s a distinct possibility they attempt to trade down a few spots and garner more picks for a roster that terribly needs them.  All it takes is a trade partner.  Anyone?

     

    Eat, drink, watch.  Enjoy!

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    Ravenous128

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