Agent: Charges against Joe Mixon will be dropped on Friday

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills
Getty Images

On Thursday, Bengals running back Joe Mixon was charged with aggravated menacing. It’s a misdemeanor allegation.

Per a portion of an affidavit posted on social media by WCPO-TV, but then deleted, Mixon allegedly pointed a gun at another person on January 21, and allegedly said she should be “popped in the face.”

Agent Peter Schaffer told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that the charges will be dropped on Friday.

It was a rush to judgement,” Schaffer told Pelissero. “They’re dropping the charges first thing in the morning. I really feel that police have an obligation before they file charges — because of the damage that can be done to the person’s reputation — to do their work. They should be held to a higher standard. Because I don’t play with people’s lives.”

It’s unclear why the charges are being dropped. Possibly, prosecutors believe they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s possible the alleged victim has recanted.

No one has posted any statement from the alleged victim, or the alleged victim’s lawyer (if the alleged victim has one). It’s unclear whether NFL Network sought a statement from the alleged victim, or from the alleged victim’s lawyer, before posting the statement from Mixon’s agent.

If the alleged victim hasn’t rescinded the allegation, other avenues are available, including the civil court system. So even if the criminal case ends tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that the issue will definitely be over.

Report: Patriots hire Will Lawing to offensive staff

Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Getty Images

The Patriots are hiring Will Lawing for a position on their offensive staff, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports.

Lawing, 37, could work as the tight ends coach, a position he held his final two seasons in Houston.

He has worked with new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in three different stops. Lawing was with O’Brien at Penn State (2013), the Texans (2014-20) and Alabama (2021-22).

He was an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide the past two seasons.

O’Brien has several positions to fill on the offensive staff, so he likely brings more of his confidants with him.

Aaron Rodgers says he’s “not going to San Fran”

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - Round One
Getty Images

On Wednesday, the 49ers said they don’t plan to pursue any high-profile veteran quarterbacks this offseason. On Thursday, one specific high-profile veteran quarterback said he won’t be joining the 49ers.

Aaron Rodgers, at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, said when asked for any news said, “I’m not going to San Fran.”

Two years ago, it was an effort by the 49ers to trade for Rodgers that caused his situation with the Packers to hit the fan, one day before the 2021 draft. The Packers said no then.

Apparently, neither the 49ers nor Rodgers have any interest in joining forces this time around. Or maybe the Packers have made it clear that, if a trade happens, it won’t involve a team in the NFC.

In 2005, Rodgers wanted the 49ers to make him the first overall pick in the draft. They selected Alex Smith instead, and Rodgers plunged out of the top 20.

Kyle Shanahan bristles at suggestion he’s not properly protecting quarterbacks

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
Getty Images

Wednesday’s end-of-season press conference ended with a tough but fair question for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. And Shanahan’s answer made it clear he didn’t particularly appreciate the question.

Here’s the relevant portion of the question: “When you go through a season and you have four quarterbacks get hurt, does it cause you as a coach any hesitation? They’re all different, but does it give you as the person who draws up the plays, any hesitation on how you’re protecting them? How they’re handled, what you do with them?”

“I think if you looked at the injuries, common sense would answer that question,” Shanahan said in response. “How have they gotten hurt? I’m sorry, Josh [Johnson] got a concussion when he hit the ground, so that’s the fourth one you’re talking about. I’m sorry our quarterback got his elbow bent backwards on a normal drop-back pass. I’m sorry, on a drop-back pass someone rolled up on Jimmy’s ankle. And then we have a dual-threat quarterback who got hurt running the ball. To throw all those four in that category. No quarterbacks got hurt when we had to hand it off the whole second half, so we can look into that.”

Let’s take a closer look at the elbow injury to Brock Purdy. As Shanahan drew up the play, tight end Tyler Kroft was assigned to block pass rusher Haason Reddick. Time and again, coaches design Os and Xs without regard to whether the X will badly beat the O.

That’s what pass rushers typically do to tight ends. But coaches still put tight ends in those positions. Which, in turn, puts quarterbacks in the difficult position of having a pass rusher in their face or, more specifically, crashing into their arm while trying to throw the ball.

Look, it’s not Shanahan’s fault that he’s had quarterbacks who are prone to injury. In 2018, Jimmy Garoppolo tore an ACL when he dropped a shoulder to challenge a defensive back at the sideline, instead of just getting out of bounds.

The best quarterbacks know how to protect themselves. But, at least as to the Purdy injury, Shanahan bears from responsibility for expecting a second-string tight end to impede the path of one of the best pass rushers in football to the quarterback.

Maxx Crosby calls Joey Bosa a “crybaby” for complaining about getting held

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Getty Images

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa has had an interesting week. On Sunday, he attended the 49ers-Eagles game to support his brother, Nick. And a video went viral of a Philly fan giving Bosa the business.

Now, Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby has chimed in regarding Bosa’s in-game and post-game reaction to being held during the wild-card loss to the Jaguars.

“Couple games ago, when fucking dude had a meltdown and blaming the refs,” Crosby said on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast. “And I see dudes blaming — ‘Oh, fucking O-linemen hold all the time, refs don’t call it.’ Like, I’ll never be that guy, bro. Shit like that is so weak to me. You’re gonna get held. I know I get held all the time. You watch the Rams’ last drive against us. I was getting literally tackled, but I’m not gonna go and double down and go look like a little fucking crybaby.”

The reality is the officials aren’t aggressively calling holding or false starts by offensive linemen. The habit, whether dictated by 345 Park Avenue or not, makes it easier for offensive linemen to handle defensive linemen, who currently are bigger, stronger, and faster than the men who try to block them.

So a guy can either blow a gasket and cost his team yardage and himself money, or he can just keep going, knowing that getting held goes with the territory of being a pass rusher in today’s NFL.

DeMeco Ryans thankful for Broncos interest, but “wasn’t a difficult decision” to choose Texans

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
Getty Images

Before the Texans hired DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach this week, there was word that the Broncos were also interested in hiring Ryans after interviewing him and seeing the impressive work he did as the 49ers defensive coordinator.

There was word of a late push from the Broncos to get Ryans, but the team denied that was the case and Ryans isn’t making it sound like there was much of a question in his mind once the Texans showed interest in hiring him. Ryans played for the Texans and called being their head coach his “dream job” in a statement after his hiring became official.

In a Thursday press conference, Ryans continued on in the same vein. He said he was thankful for the interest from the Broncos, but that it was a “no brainer” to choose to return to Houston.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision, it was easy,” Ryans said.

Choosing his next job may not have caused Ryans to break a sweat, but there will be more difficult work ahead for Ryans as he tries to lead the Texans from rebuilding to contention in the years to come.

DeMeco Ryans uses J.J. Watt as the model of what he wants the Texans to be

Getty Images

New Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans played for the Texans for six years, and the last of those years was J.J. Watt‘s rookie year. And Ryans says Watt grew to exemplify what the Texans are going to be.

Ryans said today at his introductory press conference that Watt’s approach on and off the field is what he’s going to demand of his players.

“Everyone knows what J.J. Watt has meant to the city of Houston, and not just the football J.J. Watt, it’s the charitable work that J.J. has done. J.J. represents the Texans. He is a Texan,” Ryans said. “We want to build this team with guys that have the character of J.J. Watt. . . . That’s the type of men we want in our organization.”

The last game of Watt’s career came against the 49ers this season, with Ryans there as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator. Ryans said it was an honor to observe Watt’s career from beginning to end, and that the Texans are going to be the kind of team Watt would be proud to be associated with.

Dave Ziegler: There’s going to be teams interested in Derek Carr

NFL: DEC 24 Raiders at Steelers
Getty Images

Derek Carr will represent the Raiders in the Pro Bowl games, his final time wearing the team’s gear. The questions are how and when Carr’s next team is decided.

As much as the Raiders surely want to trade Carr, rather than cut him, it’s complicated.

His contract includes $40.4 million in injury guaranteed salary that becomes fully guaranteed on Feb. 15, and they need his approval to consummate a deal.

“I think here this week at the Senior Bowl, obviously everybody’s here. This is a good time to have those conversations,” Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler said Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “There’s going to be people interested in Derek Carr. There’s no doubt about that. He’s been a good football player in this league for quite some time. Like I said, he’s a phenomenal human being, and we’ll kind of see where it goes.”

The audio clip posted by Sirius does not indicate whether he was asked about Carr’s no-trade clause or the report that the Raiders have yet to give Carr permission to talk to other teams about a potential trade.

The Raiders benched Carr with two games remaining in the season, and he finished with his worst passer rating (86.3) since his rookie season of 2014.

The Panthers, Saints, Bucs, Falcons, Jets, Colts and Commanders are among the teams in the market for a veteran quarterback. The Raiders also now are in search of a new one after nine seasons with Carr.

“Derek’s a phenomenal player, too, and a phenomenal human being,” Ziegler said. “Obviously, we have some things, some dominoes to fall, and some things that we have to look at relative to his situation and our quarterback situation going forward in ’23. But no position is as important as the quarterback position. You all know that; everybody knows that. So we’re gonna be putting a lot of work in on that front and kind of see how it all plays out here.”

Report: CBS attempted an “intervention” with Tony Romo before 2022 season

Getty Images

Although the top games on CBS and FOX draw major audiences during the regular season, the numbers grow — and the attention spikes — in the playoffs. So does the scrutiny of the people calling the games for those networks.

This year, Greg Olsen of Fox is up. And Tony Romo of CBS is down. The former Cowboys quarterback, who burst onto the scene in 2017 as a breath of fresh air, has quickly assumed the aroma of rotting rock bass, based on the instant assessments made during every game on social media by fans and pundits alike.

Romo has taken repeated body blows in the aftermath of Sunday’s AFC Championship. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post said on his podcast with John Ourand of Sports Business Journal that CBS has been aware of Romo’s slippage.

Specifically, Marchand said that CBS attempted an “intervention” with Romo during the 2022 offseason, but that things “did not get better.”

“There’s kind of a fine line between unconventional and undisciplined,” Marchand said on the podcast.

It’s unclear what has happened with Romo, who was given a curve-shattering, 10-year, $180 million contract by CBS in 2020. Is he not working as hard to prepare? Is he less familiar with the players and coaches, now that he has been out of the league for six full seasons? Is he less curious than he should be about the details and nuances of the game he’s about to call?

Or have the tastes of the general public changed? Has Romo’s routine simply gotten stale?

Via Jenna Lemoncelli of the New York Post, Romo recently addressed the status of his broadcasting career as part of a promotional campaign. And while he didn’t mention any intervention or other issues, he acknowledged that he remains a work in progress.

I think you’re always evolving,” Romo told the Post. “I mean, some changes are good, some you’re like, ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do that. But I always trial-and-error a bunch, and sometimes it works.”

Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the problem. Calling a game in front of 30 million (during the regular season) and more than 40 or 50 million (in the postseason) may not be the ideal time to experiment.

“I mean, the ability to adapt and learn, if you never try to change at all — I just think like the best players in the world aren’t afraid of failure,” Romo said. “You’re going to fail all the time, but at the same time, you succeed because of that, as long as you think about it and try to understand how to improve and then go about the process to make that happen, which is work ethic and commitment. But you got to have a plan for it before.”

There’s a subtle inconsistency lurking in that explanation. The greater a person’s commitment to work ethic and planning, the less likely the person will be to take chances with the fruits of that labor. The greater the commitment to work ethic and planning, the more often comments that seem spontaneous or risky will work.

Who knows how hard Romo really is preparing? Maybe he likes the rush of flying by the seat of his pants. Of improvising. Of the thrill of the inherent roll of the dice that comes from real-time trial and error.

Or maybe he’s just gotten complacent, now that he has gotten paid.

“I just think it’s enjoyable to try and be the best you can be, and the only way to do that is sometimes to trial and error, and staying inside the umbrella of what you think that the viewer wants to help them enjoy the show,” Romo said. “You don’t always get it right, but I do think more often than not, just the people that come up to you all the time. I mean, it’s quadruple from my first two-to-three years, of how many people come up to me on the street and want to talk about it and how they loved it and stuff. So it’s really rewarding for that.”

That said, the real truth usually falls somewhere between the endless vitriol from keyboard warriors and the face-to-face fawning by strangers who smile and say without specificity, “I enjoy your work.”

Romo added that his work isn’t stressful, and that he’s always trying to improve.

“I just love showing the emotion of that, the fans and just letting them know how big this is to these players, to these coaches,” Romo said. “It’s life changing for a lot of people. . . . I just think it’s really enjoyable to kind of share some of that emotion with people. I’m was trying to improve and get to a level that people enjoy sometimes once in a while.”

Frankly, I’ve done a 180 on Romo. When he was the fair-haired boy of broadcasting, I didn’t get it. Now that people seem to be getting sick of his shtick, I’m used to it. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. His unbridled enthusiasm and stray sound effects and non-sequiturs are like an old friend whose flaws are more endearing than irritating.

Still, maybe Romo needs to ask himself whether he’s gotten too comfortable, whether he’s truly putting in the work the way he should. Whether he can improve. Whether he even wants to. If he has sufficiently thick skin, he can ride out the balance of his deal doing things his way, cash every check, and then see what’s next for him.

He won the race more than two years ago. He alone can decide whether he wants to keep running as fast as he can.

Kyle Shanahan on next DC: I’m trying to get someone where we don’t have to turn much over

New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers
Getty Images

The 49ers have experienced plenty of brain drain over the last few years, with Robert Saleh and Mike McDaniel former coordinators departing the organization to become head coaches elsewhere.

DeMeco Ryans is now the latest to leave San Francisco, as he’s been named the Texans head coach. That means the 49ers need a new defensive coordinator.

San Francisco apparently reached out to former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, but he ultimately has elected to join the Dolphins and McDaniel as their DC.

On Wednesday, Shanahan said he’s in the middle of his search for a new coordinator, while praising Ryans as he takes his new job.

“I love DeMeco one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around, best people I’ve ever been around,” Shanahan said. “Him and [his wife] Jamila mean the world to us and I really wish they weren’t going, but it’s more than deserved and more than earned. And I think they made the best hire by far that was available because DeMeco is going to be a great one. He already has been.

“I love our defensive staff, I love our defense. I’m trying to get something where we don’t have to turn much over. I would love to keep our same staff, so I’m going to talk to some guys on our staff. I’m going to talk to some guys outside of our staff and hopefully whichever way we decide to go, whether we bring in a new guy or not, that it’s someone who can work with who we have and what we’ve accomplished here because I love the scheme that we run and I feel the foundation we have on the D-line, at linebacker, at corner, at safety. I think our players fit very well in it too, so I’m hoping to find someone who fits with us personality-wise and scheme wise.”

There’s plenty of reason for Shanahan to want continuity, as the 49ers finished No. 1 in points allowed and yards allowed as the league’s best defense. The club is also expected to sport the AP defensive player of the year in edge rusher Nick Bosa.

Shanahan added that he welcomes any player who has a strong opinion on the club’s next DC to share it with him.

In addition to any internal candidates they’re considering, the 49ers have also reportedly requested interviews with Steve Wilks and Chris Harris for their defensive coordinator vacancy.

Willie Gay limited in Chiefs practice Thursday

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Getty Images

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid shared most of the big news about the Chiefs’ practice participation in a press conference on Thursday, but there were a couple of other notable tidbits when the official practice report was released.

Linebacker Willie Gay was listed as limited because of his shoulder injury. Word early this week was that tests on Gay’s shoulder were encouraging and he was also listed as limited on Wednesday’s estimated practice report.

Right guard Trey Smith (ankle) was also listed as limited on Wednesday, but he was a full participant in Thursday’s actual practice session. Running back Isiah Pacheco (wrist), quarterback Patrick Mahomes (ankle), running back Jerick McKinnon (ankles), and wide receiver Justin Watson (illness) were also full participants.

Reid said before practice that cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (concussion) would join wide receivers Kadarius Toney (ankle, hamstring), Mecole Hardman (pelvis), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) in missing practice. Reid also said it’s doubtful that Hardman will be well enough to face the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Former Patriots running backs coach Cleve Bryant dies at 75

New York Jets v New England Patriots
Getty Images

Former Patriots running backs coach Cleve Bryant died Tuesday, the team announced. He was 75.

Bryant spent nearly his entire 26-season coaching career in the college ranks, many of them under head coach Mack Brown. He was in New England from 1982-84.

The Patriots finished second, fifth and 11 in rushing with Bryant as their running backs coach those three seasons. He returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1985.

Bryant played for Ohio University from 1965-69, earning All Mid-American Conference honors in 1967 after leading the Bobcats to their third conference championship title. The Bobcats claimed back-to-back MAC championships, winning again in 1968, earning Bryant 1968 MAC Player of the Year.

Bryant was drafted in the 11th round of the 1970 NFL draft by the Broncos, but he did not make the team.

Bryant was inducted into the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Citrus Bowl Hall of Fame in 1988.

Lane Johnson, Landon Dickerson listed as out of practice again

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles
Getty Images

The Eagles handed in their second estimated injury report of the week on Thursday and it looked exactly the same as the one they had on Wednesday.

Right tackle Lane Johnson (groin) and left guard Landon Dickerson (elbow) were listed as out of practice. Both played in the NFC Championship Game, but Dickerson left early due to his injury.

Center Cam Jurgens (hip), cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe), and defensive end Robert Quinn (foot) were also listed as out for the second straight day.

All five of the Eagles players are on the injury report were also listed as resting, so it doesn’t appear that there’s any great concern about their status for Super Bowl Sunday.

NFL touts impact of “replay assist” on reducing formal replay challenges

NFL: DEC 04 Steelers at Falcons
Getty Images

It’s known by different names, multiple of which are used by the league. Expedited review is more common. Replay assist is the term that was utilized in a tweet posted today by the NFL Officiating account.

“The NFL expanded its replay rule to allow replay officials to assist on-field officials in specific, limited game situations to prevent game stoppages and improve accuracy of calls,” the league proclaimed.

The tweet included a graphic touting that “replay assist” prevented 254 stoppages in the 2021-22 season, with half being booth reviews that were prevented and the other half being coach’s challenges that were avoided. (The tweet does not contain statistics for 2022-23.)

The post includes a link to an article regarding the 2021 expansion of replay assist to encompass issues like whether a catch was made, or whether a touchdown was scored. The total permissible categories for expedited review without a challenge are: Penalty enforcement; confirmation of the proper down; spot of a foul; game clock administration; possession of a loose ball; complete or incomplete pass; loose ball touching a boundary line, goal line, or end line; location of the football or a player in relation to a boundary line, line of scrimmage, line to gain, or goal line; and player down by contact (when not ruled down on the field).

The numbers are impressive, but they obscure questions raised earlier this week about the transparency and consistency of expedited review. Three specific instances from the conference championships prove that: (1) the DeVonta Smith non-catch, which wasn’t caught by replay assist (even though the league has access to all replay angles); (2) Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball after his shin was down, which was fixed by replay assist; and (3) the Marquez Valdes-Scantling reach with the ball for a first down, which was overturned by a coach’s challenge, but ignored by replay review.

The biggest problem comes from the inconsistency. Sometimes it’s used, sometimes it isn’t. If a ruling on the field was so clearly and obviously wrong that replay review later overturns it, it should have been overturned by expedited review.

Basically, the league has opened a can of worms with replay assist. It’s fixing some calls, but not others. It should be fixing all, or it should be fixing none. Anything else introduces the potential for the kind of inconsistency that makes people think games are rigged, even if they aren’t.

Cowboys going “back to the drawing board” at kicker

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Getty Images

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher is scheduled for free agency in March, and owner Jerry Jones indicated the team might look elsewhere to find a kicker.

“We are back to the drawing board,” Jones said, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News.

Maher made 90.6 percent of his field goal attempts and 94.3 percent of his extra points before a postseason case of the yips. He missed a PAT in Week 18 at Washington before setting an NFL record with four missed extra points in the wild card playoff win at Tampa.

He had another PAT blocked in the divisional round loss to the 49ers on a low kick that was headed left.

Texas governor Greg Abbott and Dallas mayor Eric Johnson both made fun of Maher on social media.

It will mark the second consecutive offseason the Cowboys had uncertainty at kicker.

They cut Greg Zuerlein after he missed six extra points and six field goals in the 2021 season.

The Cowboys had a training camp kicking contest between undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay and Lirim Hajrullahu that went so poorly that they signed Maher, who won the job.