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#pounditMonday, January 24, 2022

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Report: Russell Wilson not totally committed to Seahawks

Russell Wilson in Seahawks gear

Russell Wilson has said publicly that he is hoping to remain with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, but it sounds like he is far less certain about his future than he has let on.

Wilson wants to explore potential trade options and see if another team could give him a better opporunity to win, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. While the quarterback has not demanded a trade, he is open to one if he feels it would help him win another Super Bowl.

Wilson, who has a full no-trade clause, was openly unhappy with the state of the Seahawks last offseason. His agent even went public with a list of teams for which Wilson would be willing to play. The Seahawks appeared to address some of his concerns, but they then struggled through a 7-10 season. It was the first time since they drafted Wilson in 2012 that the Seahawks have finished below .500.

If Wilson wants to remain in Seattle, the Seahawks are unlikely to trade him. But if he flirts with the idea of a trade again, they may not be able to do enough to convince him to stick around.

Photo: Oct 7, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen makes embarrassing admission about touchdown pass against Patriots

Dawson Knox falls while catching

Josh Allen put together a historic performance in his Buffalo Bills’ dominant 47-17 win over the New England Patriots in their AFC Wild Card game on Saturday night.

Allen went 21/25 for 305 yards and five touchdowns in the freezing cold. His 157.6 passer rating was nearly perfect. Allen became the first quarterback in playoff history with 300 passing yards, five or more passing touchdowns, and 60 rushing yards, according to Pro Football Reference.

The Bills also accomplished an incredible feat in their win.

As impressive as Allen was in the game, there is one thing he is not taking credit for.

The Bills quarterback admitted after his team’s win that his first touchdown pass of the game, which went to Dawson Knox in the back of the end zone, was unintentional. Allen admitted he was trying to throw the ball away and didn’t even know it went for a TD.

Here is a look at the play:

Well, now that he mentions it, it sure looked like Allen was giving up on the play when he made the throw. Still, we won’t hold that against him.

That’s how you know everything was going Buffalo’s way. Even when he was trying to throw the ball away, a pass still went for a touchdown.

Had Buffalo lost the game, Allen probably wouldn’t have admitted it. But since they won, what difference does it make to admit the truth?

NFL executive ripped on Jerome Boger over officiating blunder

Jerome Booger looks up

Jerome Boger’s crew made a huge mistake while officiating Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders. Apparently the error came as no surprise to some around the NFL.

NFL reporter Albert Breer said on Saturday that he received a sarcastic text message from a league executive about Boger’s crew. The executive was not at all surprised to see Boger’s crew make a big mistake.

The mistake from Boger’s crew came in the second quarter and helped Cincinnati get a touchdown to make it 20-6 before halftime (see it here). Cincinnati won the game 26-19.

The referees blew an early whistle that would have made the play dead before Joe Burrow threw a touchdown pass. The down should have been replayed, but Boger’s crew allowed the touchdown to stand.

Photo: Oct 29, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; NFL referee Jerome Boger (23) during the game of the Indianapolis Colts against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

JuJu Smith-Schuster set to make surprise return in Wild Card game

JuJu Smith-Schuster

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be getting an unexpected bit of help on Sunday for their AFC Wild Card game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster announced on Twitter Saturday that he has recovered from his shoulder injury and would apparently be available to play Sunday night.

There had been some rumblings that Smith-Schuster might be healthy enough to play Sunday, but there was still some uncertainty about his potential role. He has not played since October, and it is yet to be determined how big his role in the offense might be. The fact that he’ll be out there at all is undoubtedly a boost for Pittsburgh, though.

Smith-Schuster was expected to miss the remainder of the season after going down with the injury. The Steelers making the playoffs basically gave him a much-needed extra week to get healthy. He only had 15 catches and no touchdowns in five games before getting hurt, so it might be best to temper expectations for Sunday no matter what.

Report: Mike McCarthy could be on hot seat with early playoff loss

Mike McCarthy coaching the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys won 12 games in 2021 and an NFC East title, but a new report suggests that may not be enough to keep coach Mike McCarthy employed.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could consider a coaching change if the team falls early in the playoffs, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Sources told La Canfora that Jones would likely at least consider a change if Dallas falls in the Wild Card round.

If the Cowboys do make a change, it is reportedly likely that they would promote from within. The Jones family is known to be enamored with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and would hate to see the Cowboys lose Moore to another team.

Any change would certainly look harsh for McCarthy, especially after the team jumped to 12-5 after going 6-10 in his first year. While a change seems like an unlikely outcome, there is precedent. Jones went out of his way to keep Jason Garrett before promoting him to head coach in 2010. McCarthy could be a casualty if the owner opts to take a similar route with Moore.

Photo: Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on the field before the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Browns coach responds to reports of tension with Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield on the sidelines

During the final month of the regular season, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield twice took aim at Kevin Stefanski’s play calling. That, coupled with the team’s 8-9 finish, led to rampant speculation that trouble was brewing between the two.

However, the exit meeting between Stefanski and Mayfield reportedly went swimmingly. So much so that general manager Andrew Berry appeared to commit to Mayfield in 2022 and potentially beyond.

On Thursday morning, Stefanski took things a step further and attempted to shut down any notion that he has issues with Mayfield.

“It’s good. We talked. He’s going to get surgery, which is huge for him, and he can start the rehab process here and get ready to jump back into it,” Stefanski told Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps on 92.3 The Fan. “But Baker and I, I think we work well together.

“I respect him. He respects me. I push him. He understands how we operate. We’ve had two years together, and I think as a team we’ve certainly just had our ups and downs. But I do think that we push each other, and there’s definitely a level of respect there.”

That’s a stronger take than Stefanski had offered on January 7 when he told the team’s beat that his relationship with Mayfield was “no different” than it was in 2020.

Mayfield, meanwhile, has not held a public interview or press conference since January 3. And with surgery currently on tap, it’s unlikely that we’ll hear from him for quite some time.

Image: Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Ramsey left disappointed by notable All-Pro rule change

Jalen Ramsey

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey had a pretty lofty ambition for the 2021 season, only to learn that it’s something he can’t even accomplish anymore.

Ramsey was named an All-Pro at cornerback on Friday, but that wasn’t quite enough to satisfy him. Ramsey had hoped to be named to the All-Pro team at two positions, as the NFL has previously named an All-Pro at a catch-all defensive back position. That was quietly discarded in 2020, meaning Ramsey’s ambition was foiled.

“I started thinking about how previous years they did like two corners and then they get like a slot for DB,” Ramsey said Friday, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “But I guess they switched that up this year, so they didn’t do that this year. Because initially going into it I was hopeful that maybe I could get All-Pro at two separate categories, but they switched it up. So it is what it is, but I’m super grateful and thankful.”

Ramsey probably wouldn’t have pulled off the feat anyway, as most voters would probably have cast their vote for him at corner and then wrote someone else in for the catch-all DB spot. Still, this is one of the proudest guys in the NFL, so you wouldn’t expect his goals to be any less.

Chip Kelly to remain at UCLA after agreeing to new contract

Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly has ended the uncertainty surrounding his UCLA future by agreeing to a new contract.

Kelly has agreed to a new four-year deal with the Bruins, the school confirmed Friday afternoon. Terms of the deal were not immediately available, but reports indicated that the deal had been in the works for several weeks.

Speculation had increased recently about Kelly’s future with the Bruins. The coach was entering the final season of his current contract, and his buyout was set to drop to $0 on Sunday, meaning the Bruins could have fired him for free. That led to some speculation that UCLA might be slow-walking an extension with the intention of forcing Kelly out.

Kelly is coming off an 8-4 season, his best with the Bruins after three underwhelming campaigns. With key offensive players set to return, further progress will be expected in 2022.

Photo: Jul 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Chip Kelly during Pac-12 football media day at Hollywood & Highland. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Erin Andrews addresses her controversial hug with Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers is interviewed by Erin Andrews

Erin Andrews found herself at the center of a silly controversy a few weeks ago when she hugged Aaron Rodgers after an interview, but she may have misunderstood what all the fuss was about.

Andrews and Rodgers went viral after they exchanged a hug following the Green Bay Packers’ win over the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day. The main reason the hug became a big topic was that it illustrated the hypocrisy that exists with the NFL’s COVID protocols. Andrews and Rodgers remained socially distanced while talking, only to hug before they parted ways.

Andrews discussed the reaction to the hug with co-host Charissa Thompson on their “Calm Down” podcast this week. She said she has close relationships with several players and exchanges hugs with them quite frequently. Andrews thinks the controversy stemmed from her being a woman and Rodgers being a “lightning rod for his stance on COVID.”

“For the first time in my career I kind of thought, this was like a chick thing,” Andrews said, as transcribed by Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post. “They’re going after it because I’m a female. Now, maybe I have it wronged they’re just going after it because Aaron is a lightning rod right now but I will say this, no one has said anything when Greg Olsen and [George] Kittle tackled and hugged each other.”

Andrews added that she has hugged other players like Matthew Stafford, and neither he nor his wife had any issue with it. She then briefly touched on the COVID protocol issue.

“And I know that there’s the other argument where we’re doing the interview six feet apart, because of the COVID protocol,” she said. “It is what it is. I understand that. I’ll do whatever the NFL needs me to do.”

That was the real issue. The majority of people thought the hug proved that many of the NFL’s COVID protocols are strictly for theater. There’s no point in a socially distanced interview that ends with a hug. It just makes no sense.

This isn’t the first controversy Andrews has been involved with this season, but neither was a big deal. For most people, the hug reaction was more of a COVID thing than a “chick thing.”

Tickets to Patriots-Bills playoff game are going for surprising prices

Bills fans cheer for their team

Saturday night will mark the first time in 25 years that the Buffalo Bills get to play a postseason game in front of a packed home stadium, but demand for tickets hasn’t been nearly as high as anticipated.

As of Friday morning, there were still plenty of tickets available on sites like Ticketmaster and Stubhub. The get-in-the-door price was somewhere in the $30-40 dollar range.

Bills fans pride themselves on being some of the most loyal and passionate in all of sports. Less than 7,000 were allowed to attend last year’s home playoff game due to government mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time Buffalo hosted a playoff game before that was 1996. So why the discount prices?

For starters, temperatures are expected to be in the single digits at kickoff on Saturday night. That could certainly be a factor, though you would think Buffalo fans would be accustomed to that weather. Fans are also required to show proof of COVID vaccination to attend the game, so it’s possible some are turned off by that.

Whatever the case, the get-in price at Highmark Stadium is far lower than that of any of the other five playoff games this weekend. If the cold is the primary concern for Bills fans, Bart Scott has a suggestion for how they can overcome it.

Photo: Jan 9, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills fans celebrate winning the AFC East by gaining a win over the New York Jets at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports