St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones looks back on Sunday's Bucs-Panthers broadcast on Fox.
. Broadcasters are in the ear of the beholder. Generally, fans like certain announcers or dislike them, and there's rarely a good reason why they like or dislike them. They just do or don't. Some announcers fall in that middle ground — you don't care either way. They're just there, often just white noise during the game. That's how Ron Pitts, top left, and John Lynch started the day, but as the game ticked along, they actually proved themselves as a decent tandem.
Aside from his penchant for saying "great" a little too often on plays that really aren't that "great," Pitts calls a solid game. And Lynch shows he has a future in the business. I'll get to Lynch more in a second, but overall, the broadcast team was better than the two teams playing, and the pair's performance was better than the game itself.
Still not afraid to deliver hits
John Lynch took a swipe at the Bucs for botching the hiring of former offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, top left, and former defensive coordinator Jim Bates, both of whom have been replaced. You know Lynch, who called Bucs preseason games on Ch. 8, still has close ties to the organization he played for from 1993 to 2003, yet those allegiances didn't show. He offered inside information on the Bucs — such as how teammates used to call cornerback Ronde Barber "the Little Chihuahua" and how linebacker Geno Hayes, assuming the role of Derrick Brooks in the new (old) defense, should shine in the Bucs' defensive scheme. But Lynch wasn't afraid to be critical, such as when the Bucs blundered their way through a two-minute drill at the end of the first half and continually shot themselves in the foot in the second half.
Worst use of microphones
For the second week in a row in a Bucs game, the audience was exposed to several expletives as Fox's on-field microphones picked up more than just the sound of cracking helmets and smashing shoulder pads.
Best praise offered too early
Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman showed enough in the first half to earn high praise from the Fox studio crew.
"A lot of people had eyebrows raised when the organization let go of Jon Gruden and decided to go younger," Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson said at halftime. "But they did hit on Josh Freeman. He looks like he's going to be a fine quarterback."
Fox analyst Michael Strahan added, "You know how some guys just look like they belong out there? (Freeman) looks like he belongs there."
Then, of course, Freeman goes out and throws four interceptions in the second half.
Best pregame hustle
After Bucs kicker Connor Barth, left, hit the left upright on a field goal with 2:36 left in the first half, Fox announcer Ron Pitts said Barth had hit the left upright at least twice in pregame warmups. Good information, although it might have been a tad cooler if he had said that before the kick instead of after. Still, it was interesting and showed Pitts was doing his job before the game.