It didn’t take long Sunday for Dan Fouts and Ian Eagle to let us know we were watching a low-down-on-the-depth-chart broadcast team from the worst TV network doing NFL football.
In the keys-to-the-game, pre-kickoff analysis, Fouts told viewers Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t want to talk about “who’s not here anymore” among his receivers.
Instead, Fouts said, Flacco stressed how “excited” he was “about the continued progress of his new wide-out, Torrey Smith, his No. 1 wide-out.”
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You have to believe Fouts knows somewhere in his brain that Torrey Smith isn’t really “new.” Don’t you?
So, why do these ex-jocks at CBS Sports keep saying ignorant stuff at the very start of the broadcast this way?
Last week, it was the great Dan Dierdorf telling viewers before the kickoff about the big moment last year when Ray Lewis announced his retirement at the start of the season. Only, as every Ravens fan who doesn’t have serious memory issues knows, the announcement came in January just before the playoffs, and is widely credited with giving the team an inspirational boost.
Why don’t they try scripting some of their opening remarks and have a producer check it for facts — if they are unable to — before they read it at the start of the game instead of just gasbagging it and making these stupid mistakes that detract from our viewing pleasure? Really, is that too much to ask of these guys whose Hall of Fame membership we are constantly being reminded of during the game?
Of course, I am cranked off after seeing the Ravens lose to the Buffalo Bills 23-20 Sunday. The Buffalo Bills!
But I would render absolutely the same verdict on this telecast whether the Ravens won or lost.
The CBS Sports broadcast team did some things well Sunday. Eagle always brings enthusiasm to his call of the game — even if he can’t seem to ever communicate a sense of being in sync with the rhythm of play on the field as, say, Al Michaels does. But, mainly, I have no problem with Eagle.
And the director, camera persons and replay crews captured most of the images that mattered and got them up in replay if they were contested or especially illuminating in terms of ongoing patterns of play by one team or the other.
Even Fouts had some good moments. I liked the way he explained that the Bills were playing zone coverage in their secondary because their defensive backs were so banged up, while the Ravens were usually playing man to man.
But, of course, a former NFL quarterback should be pretty good at that.
What I really wanted him to explain, though, was what happened to the Ravens running game, which finished with 24 yards.
I didn’t just “want” it. By the end of the game, I was screaming at the TV for an explanation.
The best we ever got from Fouts and Eagle was that the Ravens offense seemed “lifeless” and “out of sync.” Out of sync? The ground game was dead in a ditch with maggots eating its eyes out.
There was a corollary explanation that might have helped explain what was going on with the running game Sunday in Buffalo, and it involved the status of Ray Rice.
Was Rice’s hip bothering him? It seemed as if he was, after all, out for a long time before returning near the end of the game.
With 12:38 left in the game, Eagle told viewers, “Only 15 yards on the ground for the Ravens, and no word on Rice.”
Of course, there was “no word,” because despite all the money CBS makes off the ads filling our screens, the network won’t provide a sideline reporter who can quickly track injuries instead of waiting for word from the team’s public relations department.
Rice did return to the game, but was mainly ineffective running, blocking and getting open as a pass receiver.
In the end, what really angered me about Fouts was him ducking the question when Eagle brought up the comments by Ray Lewis about the Ravens lacking leadership. True to the cult of “jockocracy,” he went out of his way to protect all the players and former players while giving fans nothing as to what might be going on behind closed doors with this party-bus team that played so poorly Sunday.
He first tried to exonerate Ray Lewis, saying, “I think Ray was caught off guard by the question.”
Yeah, Lewis was caught off guard by the question from the media. Except Lewis is the media now, one of its highest paid members, and you can’t blame his remarks on some “gotcha” question from a grubby reporter.
And then, Fouts got autobiographical and talked about “the tough position of going from being a player to a member of the media,” and how he decided that he would only “critique or criticize” a player the “way the coach would the next day” — rather than “attacking them out of hand.”
Thank you, Dan.
There you have what’s wrong with many of the jocks in the booth like Fouts. They still see themselves as part of the locker room fraternity playing for the coach and the team instead of working in the booth on behalf of fans.
And that’s why I will keep attacking “analysts” like him out of hand instead of “critiquing” them like “Coach” might do to a player. Please.