AFC Notes: Russell Wilson, Jim Schwartz, Bengals, Browns, Steelers

Bengals

Cincinnati has high hopes for S Jordan Battle as he heads into his second season in the league. Bengals safeties coach Jordan Kovacs believes re-signing S Vonn Bell will only help Battle’s development. 

“I think competition brings out the best in everybody. We’re so early into this thing, I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out,” Kovacs said, via Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. “But I think having a guy like Vonn in the room is only going to help a guy like Jordan, right? He’s the consummate professional.”

“He has maxed out his ability because of the stuff he’s done off the field. I can’t learn enough from him as a coach. The rookies can’t learn enough from a guy like him, and Jordan Battle can’t learn enough from a guy like him. And I see them off the field talking ball. In individual, talking ball. Stuff like that is going to be invaluable to Jordan in his second year.”

Browns

The Browns had one of the league’s best defenses all year in 2023 before imploding on the road in their playoff loss at Houston. Browns DC Jim Schwartz talked about their over-aggressiveness in the playoff game and how last year means nothing towards their success this year. 

“We put a big emphasis on making plays and being aggressive. And my biggest takeaway from that was we chased plays in that game, right? Instead of letting the plays come to us and making the plays that were there,” Schwartz said, via Coral Smith of NFL.com. “And I thought for the most part of last year, we did a really good job of that, and in that game, we missed an interception fairly early in the game and it just seemed like we were pressing and guys played a little bit out of character instead of just doing their job with physical toughness and effort and some personality, all of a sudden we played a little bit out of character.”

“Coming off of a pretty good year of defense, when you look at the film there was a lot of room for improvement. We can’t get complacent, we can’t think that last year is going to mean anything, right now last year means nothing, everybody’s right down to the bottom of the hill again, and you got to climb it again.”

Steelers

Steelers QB Russell Wilson said he’s feeling “revived” going into 2024 and is still confident after struggling the past two years. 

“Man, I feel the fountain of youth,” Wilson said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “I feel revived in every way, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I feel confident. I think at some point you have to know who you are as a player, as a man, as a competitor. As somebody who’s been fortunate to be able to play this game, I don’t doubt it. I trust it. I felt really good last year playing. I felt really confident in the midst of everything. And so I think right now I have all that confidence times 10.”

Steelers OC Arthur Smith believes having Wilson and Justin Fields as their two quarterbacks is beneficial towards installing an offense than having a long-term quarterback already in place. 

“It’s probably easier than if you get a job like this and there’s a guy that’s maybe been here 10 years,” Smith said. “They may have a certain way they’ve done things. … We’re all new. And so that’s been fun.”

Smith mentioned that Wilson is in the “pole position” to be their starter. 

“Russ is in the pole position,” Smith said. “It’s a competition. Obviously, we get to Latrobe, I’m sure things will heat up, but both those guys knew that, however they were acquired, and they got here and I think it’s been pretty transparent.”

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