They take you for granted: CBS, Fox have to make NFL broadcasts better

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – During my football-watching lifetime, the home team’s game has been a ratings-grabbing given.

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But as the NFL circa 2017 deals with a popularity decline, I’m amazed there has been no real examination of the broadcasts.

Sure, a good share of people are going to watch it no matter what. But that number isn’t as big as it used to be. The NFL and its broadcast partners should be examining and considering everything.

Generally, a Titans game is the highest-rated broadcast in Nashville each week. And that makes CBS, and Fox which occasionally has a game, think everything is rosy, so they alter nothing.

Which is incredibly short-sighted.

The broadcasts of your lower-ranking crews absolutely need to be revamped.

The issue is two-fold.

1) There are a lot of incredibly lazy play-by-play men, but more so analysts who clearly don’t do sufficient homework. They don’t care enough about being good. They are former players, and executives appear more concerned with stroking egos and letting them think they are good than coaching them to actually be good.

2) Too often the games don’t show us what’s important. Producers are fascinated by loading up the telecast with tight shots of the quarterback at the line of scrimmage when the viewer would benefit from a wider shot sooner. They can take too long to get to replays. They flip away from post-play stuff that is more important than what they change to.

Whether it’s Dick Stockton or Adam Archuleta or Darryl Johnston, how can broadcasters be so unconcerned with name pronunciation?

Why are die-hard Titans fans going to take their assessment of Marcus Mariota or Kevin Byard seriously when they can’t pronounce those players' names? How hard is it to get down that it’s MAR-ee-OH-tah and not MARY-oh-tah or that it’s BY-urd, not BY-yard.

Many of these guys don’t even mispronounce Mariota consistently; they say it multiple ways during the course of a game. Many games the play-by-play man says it one way, and the analyst says it another way. They aren't even listening to each other!pickers 300

How is the producer not covering this with his crew leading up the game? How is the producer not in their ears during the game reminding them?

I think they simply don’t care. Because the overwhelming, underlying feeling is they are broadcasting the game and people will watch it.

The top crews are generally better. I’ve got far less of a beef with Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth, Jim Nantz/Tony Romo, Joe Buck/Troy Aikman, though I am not so sure about Aikman. Same for Sean McDonough/Jon Gruden, who really amount to ESPN’s lone NFL broadcast crew as they have only one game a week.

Romo has been a game-changer.

And guys like Archuleta and Johnson should feel pressure as a result of the former Cowboy quarterback’s emergence.

If Romo can do so well as a newcomer, these other guys should be expected to get better.

It’s not an easy job, but it’s easier than these guys make it out to be.

When Delanie Walker caught his first touchdown pass of the season Sunday in Indianapolis, Walker took the ball and performed CPR on it.

Chris Myers of Fox described it to viewers this way: “He’s burping the baby. I love these celebrations.”

Burp the baby like that, Chris, and the baby has broken ribs.

Myers-Johnston struggled to differentiate left tackle Taylor Lewan from receiver Taywan Taylor. Is that a high standard, expecting them to realize the lineman isn't the guy running routes?

Thursday Night Football went outside the box with the recent SkyCam experiment for Titans-Steelers. That was commendable, though the predominant feedback seems to suggest while more SkyCam use is welcome, replacing the primary view we are used to is not what viewers want.

What viewers do want is for the telecast to show us what’s most important.

These lower ranking broadcasts can be too slow to get to replays or never get to them.

When Marcus Mariota rolled to his right and threw the ball away on Nov. 5 against Baltimore, he took a hit that the Titans objected to, but it drew no flag.

CBS never showed a replay of it.

A week later, when the Titans quarterback got hurt on a late play in the game-winning drive, the cameras flipped away from Mariota as he struggled to get up and followed the guy who hit him, Carlos Dunlap, for a full six seconds.

What was Dunlap doing that warranted focus on him? Walking back to the huddle.

Fox did reasonably well with replays after that.

These telecasts, however, are obsessed with quarterbacks. Why in the world when one gets hurt and looks like he could have suffered a concussion would you turn to something else in the moment?

It doesn’t appear the networks are concerned with stuff like that.

Because if they were concerned with these developments a memo would go out to all the talent with a Mariota pronunciation guide.

PKUnleashedShirt bA big boss would say, “Our standards dictate it’s important we get the name of a Heisman-Trophy winner who’s in his third year in the NFL consistently right, and I won’t stand for our failure to pronounce it correctly any longer. It’s not that difficult.”

And it would get better.

The memo would also say if a quarterback appears concussed, err on the side of showing him too long rather than not long enough.

And it would get better.

But it doesn’t get better, and what are we left to conclude but that the networks simply do not care?

They’ve taken viewership for granted for a long time.

On the list of reasons people aren’t turning the game on or are flipping away faster, do these rank high?

I am certain they are more important to me than to most.

Every little factor in a ratings downturn, though, should be under examination.

Get to damn work.

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