Jackson Fine: ESPN Praised For "MNF" Coverage In Rout
ESPN's broadcast of the Ravens' 45-6 blowout of the Rams last night alternated "between reverence and awe, particularly when talking about" QB Lamar Jackson, according to David Zurawik of the BALTIMORE SUN. Zurawik: "Never in all the time that I have written reviews of Ravens telecasts have I seen the team get the kind of respect it did on ESPN's 'Monday Night Football.'" The net "did the obvious in focusing its cameras on Jackson and getting out of the way, avoiding anything technical that would distract viewers' attention from the quarterback's epic coming-out performance." ESPN deserves "much praise ... for that kind of humility and restraint." Zurawik notes he likes the "MNF" broadcast team of Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland and Lisa Salters, calling Tessitore as "rock steady as they come in an NFL booth." He adds there is "not an ounce of hot dog" in Tessitore. Meanwhile, McFarland is "not asked to constantly explain what happened with instant replay of key plays, but when called on to do so, he proudly and skillfully serves." He is "football smart about what's happening on the field especially in the trenches, and he communicates it in an engaging, totally accessible way" (BALTIMORE SUN, 11/26).
FALL FROM GRACE? THE GUARDIAN's Oliver Connolly writes "MNF" has "been a mess since Mike Tirico left for NBC" in '16. Jon Gruden's personality "papered over the cracks during a shaky two-year affair with Sean McDonough, but the broadcast has been in freefall ever since." McFarland was a "decent in-studio college football analyst, but he has been awful as a national NFL voice." He "sounds like he's started a sentence and has no idea where it's going to end." Connolly: "At this point, you don't really care what he says, you're just hoping he can stumble his way to a coherent conclusion." Meanwhile, Tessitore is a "real problem." That "booming voice was perfect for the ever-ridiculous world of college football but falls flat in the pros." In the NFL, Tessitore "sounds like a condescending try-hard." It "often feels like the show's producers are more interested in their carefully choreographed packages and graphics than the actual game unfolding on the field" (GUARDIAN, 11/26).