Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.

Alan Pergament: Orlovsky, Riddick split of analysis is unnecessary but not as annoying as ESPN split screen

  • Updated
  • 0
Zack Moss Bills Titans

Bills running back Zack Moss (20) rushes the ball against Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker (37) during the third quarter Monday night at Highmark Stadium.

Support this work for $1 a month

The split screen that ESPN used frequently to show the Buffalo-Tennessee game on "Monday Night Football" at the same time Philadelphia and Minnesota were playing on ABC was just about the only thing fans had to complain about in a 41-7 Bills’ victory over the Titans.

But boy was it annoying.

It was even more annoying for those viewers who have newer TV sets that enable them to split the screen themselves by using a picture in picture or PIP feature on their remotes.

If I wanted to split the screen, I would have done it myself.

In a way, the Bills softened the complaints by making the game such a rout in the fourth quarter that the split screen became less aggravating as announcers Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky and Louis Riddick had a full fourth quarter of garbage time to fill.

The same Bills fans who become annoyed by NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth because they think he talks too much might have been just as annoyed by Orlovsky and Riddick. They never stop talking.

They both have a similar skill set and split the time to explain technical aspects of what happened while watching replays, which makes this three-man booth seem unnecessary.

If you are going to have three people in the booth, it would be best to have one analyst focus on what happened on the field and the third person providing a little amusement and color.

Levy, who has an excellent excitement level on big plays, provided the most amusement in the telecast.

At one point, he noted that he asked Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel why he looked so downcast. Levy said Vrabel responded, “I always look this way.”

With so much fourth quarter garbage time, Orlovsky and Riddick spent some of it giving Bills fans some anxiety by talking about the concerns over whether quarterback Josh Allen takes too many hits to have an extended career.

It is a concern, but it seemed less of one Monday since Allen had only one rush for 10 yards and didn’t take many hits.

I suspect some Bills fans were annoyed they couldn’t just enjoy the blowout win without worrying about the future.

Now on to more highs and lows of the telecast:

Opening Remarks: ESPN’s opening focusing on the Bills Mafia was so one-sided that Tennessee fans had to be cringing and thinking, “‘What about us?” By game’s end, they were just cringing and thinking, “What happened to us?”

Lead with the Good News: Sideline reporter Laura Rutledge had the first report on the scary injury to Bills cornerback Dane Jackson: After saying he was going to get X-rays at ECMC, Rutledge said, “the good news is he is feeling movement in his extremities.” It would have been better to start with the good news even if the Bills statement didn’t do that.

Strategic Comment: Levy said it was “interesting strategy” when the Titans decided to kick off after winning the coin toss. Just about every NFL defers to the second half when they win the toss. Later, Levy explained he didn’t think it was a good idea to give the Bills the ball at the start of the game. He asked Orlovsky if he would want Buffalo to have the ball. “I would want the Buffalo offense on the field as little as possible,” said Orlovsky. Of course, the Bills are going to get it either at the start of the game or at the start of the second half. But Levy may have a point since the Bills have scored touchdowns on both opening drives after the Titans and Los Angeles Rams chose to kick off.

Alliteration Award: Orlovsky referred to the Bills offense under new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey as having “formation flexibility.”

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera: As the game ended, ESPN’s cameras caught Dorsey smiling as he picked up his papers and left the Bills booth upstairs.

The Laugh: As backup quarterback Case Keenum ran an option play, you could see Allen laughing on the sideline.

It’s Unanimous: Everyone on “NFL Live” and “Monday Night Countdown” picked the Bills to win but not by this margin. Mina Kimes may have said it best: “I picked the Bills to win the Super Bowl. You think I’m going to pick against them tonight?”

Allen Love: Levy said “Josh Allen may be the next face of the entire NFL.” Orlovsky called him the “most indefensible quarterback in the NFL.” The Allen love has gotten to the point that Orlovsky even praised him after he overthrew Bills fullback Reggie Gilliam.

That Didn’t Age Well: A couple of times in the game, Riddick said, “this is Mike Vrabel’s type of football game.” Levy and Riddick tried to say the game wasn’t over when it clearly was, with Levy saying he hesitated to call it because of all the big Sunday comebacks in games.

Buffalove: After explaining how much Bills fans love Allen, sideline reporter Laura Rutledge concluded: “He might love them a little bit more.”

Where’s the Love?: Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds shot through the line for a sack and tipped a pass that resulted in a Jordan Poyer interception. Those were the kind of plays from Edmunds that Bills fans have longed for. He was praised but deserved more love than he received.

Choose Love: ESPN showed a nice pregame moment of Bills great Bruce Smith, wearing a Choose Love shirt, addressing the crowd. Levy then addressed the Tops shooting in May. He said “this entire community is still suffering” and added “the Bills are trying to make things a little better for their own community.”

Hedging His Praise: Riddick called Bills linebacker Matt Milano “the best coverage linebacker in the NFL, if not one of the very best.”

Students of the Game: Before the game, ESPN showed footage of young Orchard Park students getting out of school early because of the game. Rutledge then quoted Allen calling it “the most Buffalo thing ever.”

The Big Engine That Couldn’t: On the only good run by the Titans’ star Derrick Henry, Riddick said: “That is a locomotive coming downhill.” It was all downhill for Henry after that.

Good Call: Orlovsky agreed with Tennessee’s decision to go for it on fourth and one near the goal line when the Bills had a 7-0 lead. “You have to go for this,” he said. Henry scored on the play to tie it at 7. Levy wondered if a Titans lineman left early. The replay indicated he did.

The Oversights: There was no emphasis on the replacements for injured Bills center Mitch Morse and cornerback Dane Jackson or Morse’s return.

A Better Angle: When the Bills were called for illegal procedure instead of a Titan being called offsides, Orlovsky said it was a good call after looking at a replay with a better angle. It was a good call, though it would have been better to hear that from ESPN’s officiating expert John Parry than Orlovsky.

The Eye Roll: Things got so bad for the Titans that ESPN’s cameras caught several of Vrabel’s disgusted looks. His eye roll and Dorsey’s smile said it all.

Weather Report: What’s a Bills game without cold weather being mentioned, even in September? ESPN felt it necessary to remind viewers of the brutally cold conditions during the Bills home game with New England late last season.

Questionable Call: It wasn’t questioned, but you had to wonder why the Titans didn’t take a holding call on the Bills that would have made it second and 24 yards to go. The Bills got a first down on the next, shorter third-down play.

The Bucket List: At one point, Levy suggested NFL fans put a Bills home game in their travel plans. “Everyone picks Green Bay. But how about putting Buffalo on the bucket list?”

Where’s Andre?: After addressing how Bills receiver Stefon Diggs was doing things that Hall of Famer Andre Reed did with the Bills, Levy wondered if Reed was at the game because so many Bills come home. I have it on good authority that Reed was at the game in a box.

Ristorante Lombardo is Calling: During garbage time, Levy noted that Von Miller is happy in Buffalo and says, “I don’t care about market size, the weather, the restaurants… I want to win.” I understand the market size and weather issues. But the restaurants? Some of Western New York’s finest restaurants should send Miller invites.

The Numbers Game: Miller’s No. 40 led to a discussion of Riddick’s brother Robb wearing the number when he played for the Bills. That led to the analyst mentioning several old Bills he used to watch when he came here for games, including Joe Ferguson, Darryl Talley and Fred Smerlas.

The Joke’s on the Titans: On ESPN’s postgame show, host Scott Van Pelt said he watched Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins on Monday night and all the quarterbacks Sunday and concluded “it’s tough to do this. And I watch Josh Allen and it is a joke.” He meant Allen makes it look easy.

He’s Gifted: On the same show, Van Pelt asked Riddick to critique Allen. After a lengthy explanation, Riddick concluded: “On top of that, just look at him. He’s just gifted.”

The Real Most Buffalo Thing Ever: Many Bills fans outside the “NFL Live” set were saying some offensive things about Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa that can’t be repeated here. The remarks came after Tua threw for six touchdowns in a big Miami win. The chant was “the most Buffalo thing ever” and illustrated the perils of doing a show near an uncontrollable live audience. We’ll find out more about Tua Sunday when the Bills visit Miami. Play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan, analyst Trent Green and sideline reporter Melanie Collins are calling the game for CBS.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

TV Critic

Alan Pergament has had a variety of roles at The News since 1970, including as a news and sports reporter. He has been the TV columnist since 1982, with more than year off for good behavior. He is a member of the national Television Critics Association.

Related to this story

Josh Allen threw four touchdown passes, including three to Stefon Diggs, and the Buffalo Bills rolled past Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans 41-7 in their home opener. The Bills followed a season-opening 31-10 rout of the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams by throttling an opponent that has been their nemesis in each of the past two seasons. Fullback Reggie Gilliam and linebacker Matt Milano, with a 43-yard interception return, also scored touchdowns for Buffalo. Buffalo's defense limited Tennessee to 182 yards of offense and 12 first downs, while registering two sacks and forcing four turnovers. The Titans fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2012.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News