It is as easy to pick on CBS play-by-play man Spero Dedes and analyst Solomon Wilcots as it was for the Buffalo Bills to pick on – you might even say bully -- the host Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon.
But I don’t want to be accused of being a bully.
After all, the announcers could be the Bills’ good luck charms since they worked the team’s 41-14 victory Sunday and the 27-14 win over Indianapolis in the season opener.
They aren't very good. They are just average. But they have enough decent moments to avoid ruining games for Bills fans when the team plays like it has in the two early season wins.
Sure, Dedes and Wilcots are well down CBS’ announcing roster chart. But with the Buffalo market No. 53 in the country and the second smallest market in the NFL ahead of only Green Bay, WNYers shouldn’t expect to see top-flight announcing teams unless the Bills are playing one of the teams with New York on their jerseys or the Bills continue to play as well as they did Sunday and pile up the wins.
For the most part, Dedes had a decent game. He has a very good energy level on big plays, which is the best part of his game.
But he made a few head-shaking mistakes, like referring to Bills back LeSean McCoy as a defensive player, mistaking Anthony Dixon for McCoy on another play and calling a Miami off-sides penalty “critical” when the Bills had a first down anyway on the play.
As he did in the first Bills game, Dedes didn’t quickly grasp what a running-into-the kicker penalty meant in the game.
In the Colts game, he said a running into the kicker call against the Bills could be “monumental” when it was irrelevant because it was only a five-yard penalty when the Colts needed 10 yards for a first down.
In Sunday’s game, he didn’t quickly realize the Bills were going to get a first down whether it was a 5-yard running- into-the-kicker penalty (it was) or a 15-yarder for roughing the kicker.
Wilcots’ best moment came when he suggested the Dolphins roll out quarterback Ryan Tannehill well before Miami used the strategy on a touchdown play.
But too often, he talks for the sake of talking without saying anything viewers can’t see or don’t know.
For instance, he felt it necessary to tell viewers that “he had to give the Bills credit” when they were up 17-0; that Miami Coach Joe Philbin couldn’t be happy when his team was behind 27-0 at the half; and it had to be “disconcerning" (he probably meant disconcerting) for Philbin that his team wasn’t tackling well.
As the late Howard Cosell would say, all those comments illustrated that Wilcots had a firm grasp of the obvious.
If only someone at CBS, would tell him to use that great voice only when it doesn’t belabor the obvious.
The most aggravating aspect of CBS’ coverage was the failure to show replays fast enough -- or at all -- on key penalties and scoring plays. But that’s a weekly problem.
The Rating: The game had a 43.0 rating on Channel 4, which is a terrific number. However, it was still the lowest-rated game of the season. The opener had a 43.8, the second game a 45.2.
Best Pictures: The look of agony on the face of Bills Coach Rex Ryan after a Jerry Hughes sack and resulting fumble recovery was negated by a holding penalty that was never shown on replay.
Runner-ups: As Dedes noted the loyalty of Miami fans in the fourth quarter, CBS cameras showed two Dolphin fans in the stands looking at their phones. All the empty seats at the stadium Sunday and during previous Bills visits called Dedes’ comment into question.
CBS had some terrific shots of line play, especially of good blocks by Bills lineman Richie Incognito and the Bills triple teaming Dolphins’ defensive star Ndamukong Suh.
Thank Heavens for Twitter: CBS was very late advising viewers about injuries to Bills receiver Sammy Watkins and offensive lineman John Miller. It made Twitter a very valuable resource. The injuries were noted on the social network several minutes before CBS told viewers.
Best Commercial: Don’t you just love the Marshawn Lynch ad for a soft drink that has a female saying his words until he speaks at the end?
Best Stats: CBS showed a graphic illustrating that Tannehill had three 3 of his first 13 passes intercepted Sunday after having gone a record 160 passes without a pick. Later in the game, it showed the lofty stats of Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Say What? Wilcots explained the Dolphins effort this way: “I don’t think it is from a lack of effort but sometimes the intensity is not there.”
Best Line, Amateur Division: It came from one of my Twitter followers, Glen A. White, after that Wilcots quote: “Solomon is actually using Yogi Berra speak on purpose as a tribute to the great Yankees catcher who passed away this week.” I wish I had thought of that line.
Best Line, Professional Division: Dedes on the crowd with the Bills up 24-0 a few minutes before halftime: “A home opener has been more of a funeral.”
Best Quote: It came from Bills lineman Marcell Dareus after the announcers noted that he came to a meeting in a Mr. Rogers shirt and said this: "It’s all good in the hood.”
Worst Question: After Bills rookie Karlos Williams ran 41-yards for the final touchdown, Dedes asked “How did Karlos fall to the fifth round” of the draft? If he or Wilcots had done their homework, they would have known that it was because the Florida State product had of off-field issues that have been well reported. Wilcots used the question to praise Bills General Manager Doug Whaley and his staff, who hit it big with Miller, Ronald Darby and Williams as the Bills top three draft choices when the team lost a first-rounder to move up in the 2014 draft to get Watkins a year earlier. It was a game in which four of the Bills' so-called risky acquisitions -- Incognito, Darby, Williams and Percy Harvin (seven catches) came through.
Most Interesting Throwaway Line: After Williams’ touchdown, Wilcots said “I got to tell you Shady McCoy you’ve got yourself competition with this Karlos Williams.” It is doubtful that McCoy is worried or should be. It takes rookie backs a while to understand pass protection as well as veterans like McCoy. But Williams’ efforts might enable the Bills to rest an injured McCoy. Other than that, I’d throw away the line.
We Know Bad Weather: After another bad play by the Dolphins, Wilcots noted “when it rains it pours. I don’t mean that about the bad weather here. Ryan Tannehill knows what I mean.” Bad weather? What’s a little rain in Miami?
Bad 'Choice' of Words: With Miami at midfield in the final minute of the first half, Dedes said the Dolphins had “no choice” but to go for it on fourth down, down 24-0. Wilcots stayed silent. Of course, they had a choice. Generally, NFL teams never lose in the first half. The fourth-down pass was intercepted and brought back to midfield, giving the Bills enough time to get another field goal to go up 27-0 at halftime. After the Dolphins trailed, 27-8, those three points looked good to Bills fans who were still nervous with a 19-point lead.
Best Math: When Dedes noted that the Dolphins don’t have another home game until Oct 25, Wilcots noted “that’s like a month. That’s four weeks from today.”
Hard to argue.
Later on, they announcers noted that they were going to do the Dolphins Oct. 25 game against Houston. I don’t think that is going to be “disconcerting” to Bills fans. The Bills will be in a different hood then -- London, England – to play Jacksonville.
Hopefully, the Bills coaches will remind their players before the London game of this famous comment from Yogi: “Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.”