I'm a firm believer in the adage that you learn more about an announcing team during a bad game than you do from their work on a good one (actually, I'm not even sure that's an adage - maybe I just made it up). As good as Al Michaels and John Madden were for good games, they were pretty bad on the bad ones. Before you knew it, the conversation would turn to whatever celebrity's path John's Maddencruiser had crossed that week, or the turducken, or one of Al's occasional forays into the political world.
So I'm prepared to say that last night's game - which was a real stinker, a terrible game - was the best job I've seen this year from the current MNF crew. Gruden and Jaworski never gave up on the analysis, and it was as if they were offended by what they were seeing on the field - genuinely angry, for instance, that Brady Quinn kept making the same mistake over and over again. And while there is still way too much yelling, at least I'm hopeful that the team can continue to improve and become one of the better ones on the tube - especially now that we know Gruden plans to take at least three years off from coaching. I'd almost pick them ahead of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms right now, based on their blah performance Sunday morning covering a game that was actually exciting - somehow managing to suck the life right out of it.
There was also a nice production moment last night, when they showed a picture of ex-Browns star Leroy Kelly drawn by a young Jon Gruden, who apparently was a passionate Browns fan as a kid. Nice moment.
But the best moment of the night, and the best line I've heard in a football game all season, was when Gruden, obviously still feeling the sting from the Browns leaving Cleveland for Baltimore, made the comment, with some passion behind it, "You could never have the Baltimore Ravens play a throwback uniform game, because if they did, they'd be the Cleveland Browns."
Good one, Jon.