Fox turns up the volume on the crowd noise so high during NFL games that it was difficult to hear everything play-by-play man Joe Davis and analyst Brady Quinn were saying during the Buffalo Bills’ 14-13 victory over the Detroit Lions Sunday in New Era Field.
After I tweeted that, one of the comedians who follow me on Twitter cracked early in the game, “That’s probably a good thing.”
That was a little harsh. I still wanted to clearly hear what the announcers were saying.
Davis, who became the Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man after the legendary Vin Scully retired, was the more impressive of the two. He has a very good voice, an excellent excitement level on the few big plays there were in the game, and tried to set up Quinn to answer key coaching decisions.
Unfortunately, Quinn usually didn’t take the bait and answered those questions conservatively, if he answered at all.
The former Notre Dame star quarterback, who was a No. 1 draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 2007, often tried to punt when called upon to give an opinion.
Quinn has a decent voice and a pleasant manner and obviously does his homework. But I can think of only one astute thing Quinn said in the entire game. That was when he praised the Bills for calling a timeout before the fourth-down play that clinched the victory after seeing what the Lions were doing defensively. Other than that, the late Howard Cosell would say Quinn had “a firm grasp of the obvious.”
Quinn comes from the James Lofton school of announcers in that he often talks without saying anything interesting. Unlike Lofton, who tries to be humorous, Quinn is bland.
I also wish Quinn had done a better job explaining what the Lions were doing to stop Allen from running after the three previous opponents couldn’t stop him.
By game’s end, Quinn had me longing for Adam Archuleta, the CBS analyst who has worked four Bills games this season and usually has strong opinions on coaching decisions and challenges.
Of course, with the Bills 4-9 and the Lions 5-8 going into the game, Western New York shouldn’t expect to get an A team of announcers.
In a sense, the announcers were like the young Bills trying to make a positive impression as the season winds down.
Now on to the highs and lows of the Fox broadcast:
The Jinx: As the Dodgers’ announcer, Davis sounded like a play-by-play guy inappropriately talking about a no-hitter in progress as the Lions’ Matt Prater lined up for a 48-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. “By his standards a relative chip shot,” said Davis. The comment came after Quinn noted that Prater was one of the best fourth-quarters kickers in the league. Prater then missed his first fourth quarter field goal in three years. It was the difference in the game.
Weak Call: A pass interference call on the Lions against Zay Jones during the Bills winning touchdown drive was as weak as Quinn’s reaction to it. “I don’t know there was as much of a case there as there was earlier,” said Quinn. Here’s a stronger way to put it: It was a bad call that went the Bills way.
Blandino Isn’t Bland: After Quinn softly questioned whether Bills back Keith Ford made a first-down that would have sealed the victory, Fox’s officiating expert Dean Blandino was much more assertive. He accurately predicted the ball would be moved back and the first down would be taken away. Quinn often was unwilling to make a decisive decision on challenges, speculating the Bills’ Robert Thomas “might have” stepped out before making a 31-yard catch. The call of a catch stood.
A No-Brainer: I thought I must have been hearing things when Quinn speculated it was a no-brainer to punt on fourth down and put the game in the hands of the Bills defense rather than go for it after Ford’s first down was reversed. As the Bills lined up to go for it, Quinn tried to have it both ways. “It is short enough you have to feel confident you are going to get this,” he said. The Bills were 4-9. It was a no-brainer to go for it. Allen made the inches for the first down on a quarterback sneak.
Stuck on You: One of the most entertaining moments of the game came when the helmet of the Bills’ Jerry Hughes got stuck in the uniform of teammate Tremaine Edmunds. Both announcers said they had never seen that before. Hughes had to get his helmet off to retrieve it.
Quinn Passes: When Bills coach Sean McDermott uncharacteristically decided to go for it on fourth-and-two, deep in the Lions’ territory when trailing, 13-7, Davis did what any good play-by-play man would do: He asked Quinn, “What do you think?” Quinn replied the Bills should take a shot to Robert Foster “and give him an opportunity.” Sorry, that wasn’t the question.” Davis seemed to be asking Quinn what he thought about going for it, not what play was being called.
Everybody May Have Laughed: At one point after Ford became the latest Bills player to go down with an injury, Quinn said everybody is playing banged up at this point of the season. It was an odd thing to say when you consider it was Ford’s first game after being taken off the practice squad.
Lunch Time: The first half ended so quickly that Davis and Quinn stayed on as Fox’s cameras took about two minutes looking at fans wearing holiday costumes. I’m guessing halftime crew Howie, Terry, Jimmy, Michael and Curt hadn’t finished their lunch.
Replays Say Otherwise: Quinn noted that Allen ran in for a three-yard touchdown after seeing no one open. However, the replay appeared to show that Marcus Murphy was open in the end zone. It wasn’t the only time Quinn was corrected by a replay.
Old School Block: When the announcers praised a block by Detroit tight end Luke Wilson, all I could think of was his namesake’s performance in the movie “Old School.”
Graphic Issue: Davis said Murphy is in his third season, while a Fox graphic said he was in his fourth season.
A Late Scratch: Sideline reporter Bruce Feldman was a late addition to the Fox team. Earlier in the week Fox said Megan Olivi would have that role. Feldman didn’t have much to do. However, he did tell an interesting story about Bills rookie receiver Robert Foster, who didn’t get much of a chance to show off his skills in five years at Alabama.
The Final Assessment: Asked by Davis at the end of the game to assess Allen’s performance, Quinn said the rookie quarterback wasn’t helped by the receivers dropping so many balls before adding, “he is continuing to grow more and more.” Quinn had much stronger, positive comments on Allen in a podcast earlier in the week. Quinn needs to grow as an announcer as much or more as Allen needs to grow as a quarterback.