A tremendous football Sunday! And the two players who stole the spotlight managed to fan the flames of bad announcing. But first…
“You wanna talk about cliches!?”
“Winning ignites your home crowd. Tony Sparano has talked about it.” — Tim Ryan
“I’ve talked about this all season: let the ball come in on the shoulder pads.” — Rich Gannon
“You gotta be strong up the middle. You talk about it in baseball, you talk about it in football.” — Jim Mora, Jr.
“You talk about having 80 yards, and it’s not even halftime? That’s getting it done.” — Dan Dierdorf, talking about Roy Helu
Patriots 34, Redskins 27 — CBS, Greg Gumbel & Dan Dierdorf
Of all the 1:00 games, this one had by far the most action, and therefore the most face time on the NFL Red Zone Network. It was also, perhaps, the game that officially launched Rob Gronkowski into the NFL Stratosphere. He looked absolutely unstoppable, even when Tom Brady was forcing throws to him (a routine occurence). This was a really great opportunity for an analyst (Dierdorf, in this case) to show us what makes him so special, or how a team like the Redskins might go about trying to stop him. But I heard absolutely nothing from Dierdorf that went beyond simply telling me what I was looking at. (In fairness, watching Red Zone doesn’t give me access to everything Bad Announcers say, but still.)
Gronkowski is now Weapon #1 on the New England Fucking Patriots. For God’s sake, Dierdorf, tell me how the Redskins are going to try and defend him! Instead, it’s just “Look at Gronkowski ____” or “What a play by Gronkowski.” This can not be the depth and breadth of your analysis. Piecing together all the replays I saw on Red Zone, it looked like the Redskins were experimenting with all different kinds of man coverage: safeties (DeJon Gomes), linebackers (London Fletcher and Perry Riley), and at least once with rookie stud Ryan Kerrigan (on a zone blitz, when Kerrigan dropped back off the line, played absolutely perfect pass coverage, and was still beaten for a 37-yard touchdown). Please, tell me about this type of stuff (because you just know Cris Collinsworth would). Is zone coverage a bad option vs. Gronkowski (tell me, because I don’t know)? Is there a reason the Skins seem to stick to man coverage against a guy who seems, to my eyes, to be the biggest matchup nightmare in the league? Tell me! After that long touchdown, Red Zone whipped to another game, and their announcer (the very talented, very smart Scott Hanson) noticed that Gronkowski was able to waltz into the end zone without a Redskin safety challenging him. Thank You!
Up 34-27 with about 7:30 left in the game, the Patriots drove down to the 6-yard line. Time for the dagger. They break the huddle, and gee, let me think , if I were an analyst, who do I think Brady’s gonna be looking for? Whom should I circle on the telestrator? Here’s how it played out:
1-6-WAS 6 (7:17) 39-D.Woodhead left tackle to WAS 4 for 2 yards (56-P.Riley).
2-4-WAS 4 (6:42) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass incomplete short middle to 83-W.Welker.
3-4-WAS 4 (6:37) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short middle intended for 10-T.Underwood INTERCEPTED by 26-J.Wilson at WAS -9. Touchback (10-T.Underwood)
I won’t belabor the point here, but Dierdorf never mentioned Gronkowski once. Three plays from inside the 10, and not a single mention of the game’s biggest red zone receiving threat. Well played, sir.
Heartbreaking Sequences of Staggering Awfulness
“That’s a win for the Carolina defense.” –Ron Pitts, after a missed Atlanta field goal.
“[The Bills and Chargers both started 4-1, but then went 1-6, so] ..very identical, in terms of mirror images, for both teams.” — Solomon Wilcots
With the Texans driving deep for a score in the last minute of the first half, Rich Gannon completely disappeared for two plays, only to “come to life” when CBS showed the Saints/Titans halftime score (6-3) so he could talk our ears off about how he had expected a higher-scoring game.
Brian Billick spent the better part of a minute dissecting a replay of Christian Ponder getting hit as he was thrown, explaining the ’empty hand’ rule and whether or not Ponder’s arm was going forward. The problem was that the ball had gone backwards, so everything he was saying was, essentially, moot.
Broncos 13, Bears 1o (OT) — Fox — Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa
I honestly thought these three guys — whom, on an average day, I can not stand — were actually pretty decent for the game’s first 55 minutes… much like Chicago’s defense. So decent, in fact, that I was worried I wouldn’t have a lot to say here about how awful they are. But then, like a gift from the gods, came Tim Tebow, a god of sorts himself, to expose these fucking idiots.
Three weeks ago, Albert planted this blog’s first seed in my mind while calling the Titans/Falcons game. Atlanta, leading, converted a first down (inbounds) with 2:36 to play, and Tennessee was out of timeouts. “Ball game,” I said to myself [the clock runs down to 2:00, and Matt Ryan takes a knee three times]. But Albert just kept going on as though the outcome was still in doubt and the Titans had a chance. Seriously, how fucking incompetent can you be?
Bad clock management gets coaches fired [at least, Chargers fans hope it will], and I propose that the same standards should apply to those people narrating the action for us.
In case you’ve been on Mars the last 48 hours: Tebow and the Broncos, trailing 10-0, get the ball on their own 37-yard line with 4:34 to play and no timeouts remaining. They must score twice; in between, assuming the Bears get the ball back, Chicago will run anywhere from 1:30 to 2:15 off the clock (this assumes runs up the middle eat up :05 of clock, and the Bears use up all :40 of the play clock between downs), depending on the two-minute warning. This means Denver has roughly two and a half minutes to score twice, without any timeouts.
So, before this drive with 4:34 left even begins, an onsides kick (after the first Denver score) is essentially a foregone conclusion. This is the big-picture approach the Broncos, the Bears (who were probably justified playing prevent defense), and yes, the announcers, need to take. I could go deeper with this late-game clock management, but I’m hankering to rip on these clowns.
Tebow throws a TD with 2:08 left. Now, if Chicago gets the ball back, runs three times up the gut, then punts, Denver can expect to get the football with roughly :20 left (it would’ve ended up being closer to :16). So, in case you didn’t think the Broncos were already predestined to attempt an onsides kick, they sure as shit are now. Right? I’m sure Daryl Johnston will drive this point home. Moose, the floor is yours:
“Do you kick it away here? The way your defense is playing, at altitude?” This idiotic question was fielded at face value by Siragusa, who went right along with Johnston, rattling off the pros and cons of kicking it away.
Wait. It gets worse! After the commercial at the two-minute warning (after the onsides kick attempt and a Bears run), Albert and Johnston insinuated the Broncos would not even get the ball back! (I wish I had the direct quotes — and a DVR — but I was quite literally on the edge of my seat).
Now I will give Johnston credit where credit is due: on the play of the game — Marion Barber’s inexplicable decision to run out of bounds — he was all over it, berating Barber the second it happened. In hindsight, I would have loved it if he had asked what the fuck the Bears were doing running wide in the first place, but beggars can’t be choosers. Certainly not with this lot.
The Bears punted, and Denver got the ball on their 20 with :56 to play. Moose, got anything good for us?
“Remember, we only need a field goal to get this thing tied!”
Thanks. Let’s fast-forward four plays (after the huge pass to Matt Willis on the near sideline). Denver’s on the 41, there’s :23 left, and our kicker, Matt Prater, is making Rob Gronkowski look like a pussy these days. We are honestly in field goal range. With :23 to go, you can still afford to get tackled inbounds once. In hindsight, a run here is kinda money, but Tebow throws an incompletion as the clock moves down to :18. I say to no one in particular, “Kick it now.” Nothing from Albert/Johnston on this now extremely tenuous situation: getting tackled inbounds ends the game, and the Bears, knowing this, are going to put everyone on the sidelines (I assume). How about a little analysis here? Show me the defensive look here, because I am terrified at the risk of running another play. You guys got anything? [No].
On second down, Tebow made his best throw of the game: avoiding a sack and deliberately throwing it at the feet of Lance Ball, who was in the middle of the field (I say “deliberately,” but with Tebow, sometimes it’s hard to tell). Johnston, to his credit, called this well and complimented Tebow’s quick thinking.
Still, it wasn’t enough to make up for a stretch of gaffes down the stretch that exposed these guys as people who simply do not understand clock management. Either that, or they simply fell victim to Tebow Time. Next week we’ll be TALKING ABOUT the Patriots/Broncos telecast; let’s see how CBS’s number-one team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms responds to the challenge.
And now, the good news
Again, I don’t have a DVR (I don’t even have cable!), but Collinsworth launched into an anecdote about [Giants offensive coordinator] Kevin Gilbride’s game plan that I wish I could transcribe here. I can guarantee you that every other color guy would have said two things: (a) “We talked to Kevin Gilbride” and (b) “..and he talked about…” So imagine my delight when NBC cut to Gilbride on the sidelines and Collinsworth began, “Kevin Gilbride understood that the Giants…” and proceeded to go thirty seconds eloquently describing the matchup nuances against Dallas without once using the words “talked about.” It’s kind of like watching someone play Frogger. And the initials next to the high score are CC.