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Good Morning AFC North! Horton Promises Defensive Turnaround

Bengals

Flashback to the 2012 draft, as Mike Mayock pronounced a troubled prospect from Arizona State “non-draftable” due to various concerns about his play and extremely poor Combine results. Now compare that with today — Burfict, through seven weeks of play, leads the league in tackles with 74.

Now, to be fair to other defenders in the league, many have already had their bye week whereas the Bengals have not, so that stat may be a little inflated by having one more game, but it shouldn’t diminish the accomplishment.  A player that analysts had already had thrown on the garbage heap before ever playing a snap in the pros is turning out to be more of a diamond in the rough.

More than, he’s turning into one of the league’s best defenders.  If Burfict can continue to improve as both a player and a leader he may go down as the best undrafted defensive stars since fellow linebacker James Harrison entered the league.

Related News: Beard man back with a new look; Game sells out just before deadline; Team looking for first 4-0 home start since the 80’s

Browns

The Cleveland defense, a unit that had a very strong start to the season, has been unmasked somewhat over the last two games giving up a combined 62 points and 623 yards to the Lions and Packers.  Those are two prolific squads, ranking 7th and 2nd overall on offense, so it isn’t as bad as the numbers would indicate, and the ineffective Weeden-led offense hasn’t been doing the defense any favors over that two-game stretch.  Yet, even with those caveats thrown in, defensive coordinator Ray Horton expects better, much better.

“I think this next four-week period for us, you’ll see kind of a different Cleveland Browns defense, and you’ll start seeing the names that everybody thought,” Horton said during a news conference. “But I like where we’re sitting at right now, and I think at Thanksgiving when we sit in here, you’ll say, ‘Wow, you were probably right in what you said back then about getting better.’ ”

Over the next four weeks, the Browns will face the 19th ranked Chiefs offense, the 21st ranked Ravens, the Bengals who currently sit at 12th but are trending upwards, and Steelers at 20th who also seem to be getting better.

Even with some of those squads on the rise, this will be one of the easier stretches of the season for the defense, who should look a lot better over the next month.  If Jason Campbell can string together drives with any consistency, it still might yet be considered one of the elite defenses in the NFL.

Related News: Turner and McGahee think rumors effecting Gordon; Schwartz will face brother for first time; Reid on Banner; Browns and WR Tyms and other transactions this week.

Ravens

Thar be sunken treasure at the bottom of the Chesapeake, me maties!  Too bad it’s not “talk like a pirate” day, that was last month, but treasure seekers may want to detour to Maryland instead of seeking Spanish gold in the Caribbean.

One of the many diamond-encrusted Super Bowl XLVII rings has found its way to the murky depths of Middle River, which is an offshoot of the Bay. So, grab your scuba gear, wet-suit and underwater metal detector.  Even though the ring is a size of a small moon, it will be covered by a layer of silt making it nearly impossible to find just by looking.

You’ll need to keep it on the down low however if you do find the ring as by law you are required to notify the owner, Toni Lekas, who is the Ravens’ receptionist (yes, even team’s receptionist got one).

Related News: Tyrod Taylor is UberX’s ‘rider zero’; Preston’s midseason report card.

Steelers

William Gay found very little success as a Cardinal, so expectations weren’t too high for the cornerback when he rejoined the team this season, but whatever his shortcomings were in red and white they don’t seem to be showing up when he wears the gold and black.

Gay, who was part of a defensive secondary who ranked 5th worst against the pass a year ago, with many Arizona fans blaming him as a major reason as to why they couldn’t stop the pass, has been remarkably solid in his return and a major contributor to the Steelers 4th ranked pass defense.

In an effort to reward Gay’s solid return without demoting Cortez Allen they have been named co-starters on the Steelers most recent depth chart.

Related News: Steelers beginning to find balance; Tomlin gives history lesson Steelers-Raiders rivalry.

 

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  • Peatwo

    I remember the Ravens targeting Burfict as Ray’s replacement and had him as a high draft pick. I couldn’t believe they didn’t take him when he was available at the bottom of the draft. I’m happy with Smith this year, but he isn’t in his early 20s

  • Peatwo

    Regarding Gay, Steelers fans were happy to give him a kick in the ass on his way out the door the first time, so he must have learned something in Arizona! I have to go with “it was the culture, not the player”

  • brick914

    I’m reminded of Oprah’s “You get a car, and you get a car…” giveaway with these Ravens rings. “Oh, you used a urinal at the Raven’s facility, you get a ring!”

    • Peatwo

      I just read that each winner actually gets 150 rings to distribute, so the press the Ravens are getting is a little trolly regarding who received rings

  • Peatwo

    Who the *#€$@ wears a Super Bowl ring on a boat.

  • brick914

    How did Preston give both the Ravens’ running backs and the offensive line a D. Isn’t at least one deserving of an F? He also gave coaching a ‘C’. If C is supposed to be average on this scale, I think they deserved a lesser grade.

    • Peatwo

      Yea it’s funny now that he is hitting the airways, his grades have been “nicer”. He has always been known as a “shock columnist” or troll but he’s lightened up

  • brick914

    It is pretty shocking not one single team was willing to take a chance on Burfict in the draft, especially when you consider the enormous amount of late round garbage drafted by teams.

    • Peatwo

      Inward pissed at the time then figured he really was a mess so got over it… Until he actually started playing

  • David Moore

    Good idea Tomlin had to bring up the old rivalry between the teams. Gives everyone something to fight for rather than going into the game like it’s meaningless, which always seems to bight them when they play the Raiders.

    • brick914

      I love the way he’s treating his team. I wonder if they had the history class before or after recess.

      • David Moore

        It’s not like Harbs would ever do anything like take his team on a field trip to Gettysburg or anything like that.

        • brick914

          Next year I hear he’s going to take the team on one of those Harbor Duck Boat tours.

  • LordLawdog

    Burfict has taken over play-calling duties on defense too. That has helped Rey M. focus more on his actual job duties and he is playing better because of it.

  • eastern

    i can remember vontaze being linked to the ravens as their 1st round pick. i was so mad when we did not try for him with our 7th round pick …..instead (drum roll) ……………tommy streeter……blank stare

  • GP

    with the stories about the Bengals near blackout, I can’t figure out how other teams with home attendance figures in the 80-90% capacity have avoided blackouts (http://espn.go.com/nfl/attendance)? It looked pretty bare in Tampa last night. Do these teams just have local businesses that buy up the rest to be able to advertise on the local TV broadcast?

  • Jack Straughn

    I’m glad the Bengals took a chance on Burfict because he has easily become one of the best players and leaders of the defense. Teams need to stop putting so much stock into one failed drug test and combine performances, as they are clearly not indicators of NFL success or failure.

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