There are certain broadcast crews that offer nothing to a game except for background noise. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden, on the other hand, are the best the NFL has to offer in my opinion.
The thing I look for in a broadcast team is information – insight that I can’t get from a guy sitting next to me on a bar stool who’s been pounding Bud Lights for hours. On the play-by-play side I want someone who matches emotion to the game action and is factual. I really don’t ask for much, now that I think about it.
I’m a football nerd; I’m well aware of this. I like to know the lingo, what QB’s calls at the line mean, and how a secondary communicates pre-snap.
Here are the things that Jon Gruden explained to viewers throughout the game:
On a 1st and 10 from the Detroit 34, Ray Rice gets hit for a three-yard loss. Gruden explained that it was a misread by Joe Flacco and it was his responsibility to get out of that play. By not changing the play Flacco left a defensive lineman unblocked to blow up Ray.
In the red zone Joe throws an incompletion to Torrey Smith. Torrey didn’t even look back for the ball, and it was an obvious miscommunication between the two. When most analysts just leave it at miscommunication, Jon Gruden explains that it was supposed to be a hot read for Smith. So if Torrey sees a loaded box Joe will get the ball out quickly to his receiver. Joe read it—Torrey didn’t— “WTF was that” play is the outcome.
During the 3rd quarter Ray Rice broke a 15-yard run to the left side. Chucky points out that Rice was able to bounce outside because the Lions were running a stunt on the defensive line. This pulled the defensive end into the center of the offensive line creating running space for Ray.
But most importantly was this gem: Justin Tucker doesn’t just make field goals, “he hits majestic shots!”
I only had two problems with the broadcast Monday Night:
The montage of pass interference calls and no-calls the Ravens have been a part of since the Super Bowl. Then when Joe Flacco gets knee-capped in the 4th quarter there is barely a mention of a hit on the quarterback below the knee. Nothing about a no call that almost ended Joe Flacco’s season on that one.
The “Motown Meter” in the closing minutes of the game, while the play clock is running down on the Ravens offense. It’s more important to show crowd noise levels instead of how long until the ball needs to be snapped?
Let’s show off how earth-shakingly loud these Detroit fans are moments before they begin booing their team off the field.
My biggest disappointment was the lack of Grudenisms. A Grudenism is a comment that only makes sense inside Jon’s head but is damn funny to hear. Monday night didn’t offer a single “spider 2 Y banana” or “dagger squad combination.” Not even an “ultra high-speed slow-mo!”
Overall I thought Tirico and Gruden did a good job with the call on Monday night. They’re always entertaining and have a great chemistry. Tirico’s call on Justin Tucker’s 61-yard game winner was excellent as well.
Then again, if you have to call some of the Toilet Bowls that these two have had to on Monday Night Football, they were probably as pumped as we were to be watching a close game between two squads fighting for the postseason.