While Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase gave the ball for his club record 14th catch to his dad after Sunday's game in Arizona, running back Joe Mixon planned on getting tips from his dad on pass blocking.
It must be working. Pro Football Focus has Mixon not allowing pressure since the opener and has him successful on 23 of 25 passes in a category long considered a weakness for the Bengals bell cow.
Not only has PFF noticed, but so has the guy he's protecting.
"He's really taken a step, I think," said quarterback Joe Burrow after Wednesday's practice. "He's running the ball hard like he always does. He's drastically improved in his pass protection. He's doing that great this year. He just needs to continue to do what he's doing. He's playing really well."
It's fitting Burrow is the guy calling him out because he's why Mixon has tried to dial it up in his seventh season by dialing in.
"Just taking ownership of it," says Mixon of the difference. "We've got a multi-million dollar quarterback we have to protect. You have to hone in on the details of that. With that being said, that speaks for itself. "
Mixon says his father, John Mixon, a one-time Northern California high school basketball player of the year who played some college safety and linebacker at Troy, has helped him iron out details, as well as running backs coach Justin Hill. He says he talks to his dad pretty much after every game.
"My dad's not a person to grade things that you do," Mixon said. "He looks at the weaknesses or something that he can critique in your game. He and my running backs coach Justin have done a great job with technical things and getting the proper strikes down, the proper technique down, inside out strikes. I think they've done a great job. It's definitely benefitted me and I have to just keep honing in on the details."
But don't forget the ball carrier Joe Mixon. At 66 yards per game, Mixon is on track for what may be the quietest 1,152-yard season in Bengals history. And if it was a 16-game season, it would still be 1,050. On 3.9 yards per carry, they aren't glittering numbers. And he was stopped two straight times on the Cards 1.
Still, he was the MVP while Burrow was trying to get his calf right and his 81 yards in Arizona on 25 carries marked his season high on his most carries since 2021. Which, by the way, is the last time he's fumbled.
Still, he's tied for 11th in the league in rushing. He's got the same yards on two fewer carries than Derrick Henry. He's got more carries, but still has more yards than the Chiefs' Isiah Pacheco and Miami's Raheem Moster.
Still, he's one of the most productive Bengals ever.
And, with good friend and backup Samaje Perine gone, he's on the field more than ever. Last year he played 65 percent of the snaps and this year he's playing a career-high 75 percent.
"Just stay solid," is what Mixon says. Those 100-yard days are going to come, he says.
"I know my time will come. The big games and all that. I'm honestly not worried about it," Mixon says. "I know for a fact when my number is called, I'm going to go out there and do whatever I can to deliver where it gives Zac (Taylor) the confidence to call it again. Just being solid. Keep on dialing in one day at a time, one game at a time. One rep at a time."
One record at a time, too.
With 37 yards Sunday against the Seahawks at Paycor Stadium (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12), he'll pass Rudi Johnson on the Bengals all-time rushing list, behind only Ring of Honor nominees Corey Dillon and James Brooks. On his fifth carry he'll pass Pete Johnson and only Dillon and Rudi Johnson will have more carries.
"Just keep being solid," Mixon says.
BURROW CONNECTS: Back in March at the NFL scouting combine, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud told Bengals.com Burrow is one of three quarterbacks he tries to emulate.
"One of the reasons I wore No. 7 was because of Michael Vick," Stroud said. "He inspired me not only just to be athletic and use my athleticism but as a black quarterback to stay in the pocket and throw. That's something he was very underrated in. I looked up to Deshaun Watson a lot. That's somebody I have a similar playing style to.
"And then Joe Burrow, being able to create. Not being the fastest guy, but being a guy who can extend plays and throw guys off view and just be tough, and that's something that I feel like I do in this game."
Stroud said he had met Burrow briefly, but that apparently changed at some point as Stroud and Burrow met at a party before Stroud took the NFL by storm with Texans.
"The whole time I was around Joe Burrow," Stroud said. "I got to talk to him the whole time he gave me a lot of great advice. And for him being a former Buckeye, going to LSU, being the first pick in the draft. He understands right where I'm at now and he gave me a lot of great advice."
A few weeks ago it was Burrow reaching out for advice from an older quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
"Whenever you've been through a process or you have reps invested in anything and somebody new is coming in, you have some insight that maybe they don't have," Burrow said Wednesday. "People helped me when I was coming into the league and I think that's part of our job going forward. Helping out the young guys, making sure they understand what they're getting themselves into, how to play well, how to perform. He's been playing great. I'm excited for him."
NO CHARITY: Taylor thought Burrow was trying to get practice squad wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter his first NFL catch in the dying moments on Sunday. Taylor sent in a run, but said Burrow tagged it with a pass option.
But no to hear Burrow tell it, not.
"The corner was off. I figured instead of running into a four-minute defense box, just throw it out there and get some extra yards," Burrow said. "There's no charity. No charity."