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I noticed the NFL season is more than half way over and I had yet to actually weigh in on a regular season game broadcast. And since the Ravens have next to no chance to make the playoffs it was an easy call to sit down and take some notes on the CBS Sports production of last weekâ€™s game at San Diego. Itâ€™s much easier to watch a game and critique it when you already know the outcome and there is nothing on the line.
Keep in mind when reading this review itâ€™s not a grade on how CBS produces every NFL game. Each game has its own producers, director, statisticians, announcers, etc. You could watch this same game produced by a different crew and get a very different perspective and therefore get another grade.
There have been three constant story lines for the Ravens this year: injuries, poor play from the QB position and turnovers. In my mind the broadcast would touch on all of these topics throughout the game. This was not the case and I was a bit surprised. It was clear from the opening kickoff the focus would be on LaDainian Tomlinson and his quest to reach the 10,000 yard rushing milestone. Granted LT will always be a focus when he is playing, but there were two teams on the field and the broadcast was lopsided on following LT.
They flashed the season stats for QB Philip Rivers as was expected on the Chargers first possession. But there was no comparison to last year. When a team goes from 14-2 one year to 5-5 the next year donâ€™t you think that warrants some comparison between the two years?
One nice graphic I did see in the first quarter was the series history. I love this stuff because it gives some context to the game. Do these teams have a heated rivalry or not? For me, no game broadcast is complete without this information and most NFL games do not use it.
At this time of the year you would also expect to see playoff picture updates and CBS delivered here early on and scored some points. But at the end of the first quarter there was no full screen graphic for the team stats. This is NFL TV 101…after every quarter you update all the team stats.
When the Ravens went ahead 7-3 in the second quarter I was looking for the stat that said how long it had been since they had a lead that early in a gameâ€¦but no such luck. Later in the quarter after the Kyle Boller fumble it was a perfect time to show something on how many turnovers the Ravens had for the year or during the losing streak, but again, this seemed too much for this crew to handle.
The highlight for me in the first half was how eloquently Enberg gave an update on the condition of Samari Rolle. He explained it clearly and quickly and still shows why he is a top-shelf announcer. I grew up watching Enberg do football, tennis and Olympics. To me, Enberg is the Yoda and Mike Tirico is the Luke Skywalker. These guys are from different generations, but the torch of play by play master has been passed from one to the other.
The second half was a little better and featured a nice graphic on Derrick Masonâ€™s third down receiving stats and the crew was also on top of tracking Leâ€™Ron McClainâ€™s first TD. There was a good follow up on game keys discussed earlier with a segment called â€œCross Talkâ€.
Enberg and Cross make a good team, but not great because Cross does not do enough analysis. They repeatedly wondered how Antonio Gates was so wide open all day but never broke down the video to try and explain why. I have seen this done on ESPN and Fox often.
Overall this broadcast was solid if not memorable mainly due to easy targets being missed during the game and a lack of depth on obvious storylines such as Ravens offensive problems.
A question for Brian Billick â€“ Why are you challenging a first down with 4:11 left in the game when you are trailing 32-14? It was one of those moments that made me ask myself if any other coach in the league would do the same thing. I gave up on Billickâ€™s logic a long time agoâ€¦it defies reason.
A little advice for the Rooney family â€“ Two words: Sport turf.