Amazon wants its Thursday Night Football games to be a Monday or Sunday night event as bad as Cleveland wants a Super Bowl. Well, maybe not that bad, but still pretty bad. Tonight’s game between Pittsburgh and Cleveland features one AFC North team trying to find the heir to Ben Roethlisberger on the field, another trying to get its Roethlisberger back on the field, and it’s all neatly packaged on a streaming service with occasional lag.
So let’s take a look at Prime’s pursuit of legitimacy and a strong signal, Browns fans’ chase of a title at the cost of their character, and the Steelers’ search to find someone to get its talented receivers the ball.
If every Thursday night NFL game was of the caliber of Chiefs-Chargers, the shield would be elevated to the status of Marvel Studios, which routinely scares rival movie companies off its release weekends. Tonight’s game isn’t Spider-Man: No Way Home, or even Shang-Chi. Mitch Trubisky facing off with Jacoby Brissett is more along the lines of whatever DC’s next attempt at a franchise is, and thus why fan interest wanes over the course of forgettable matchups like Bears-Commanders, Falcons-Panthers, or any contest involving the Texans.
I know Kirk Herbstreit is used to a lopsided contest or two due to his time calling college games, and Al Michaels has been around so long he’s had to fill airtime because of some shitty football, but we’re about to see how good their chemistry is over the course of these Prime broadcasts. Will Herbstreit try to upsell the product like Cris Collinsworth does on Sunday night? Pushing shitty quarterbacks like a waiter trying to increase his check average with specialty shots no one wants?
We’ll know how comfortable Herbstreit is with blindly supporting the brand after the Browns and Steelers trade three-and-outs for the majority of four (ideally lag-free) hours. The streaming service got dragged on social media for lagging, and it probably had more to do with people’s home internet than anything else. However, in the battle between grandpa and the router, there is no winner, only aggravation and insults.
Of course, the NFL schedule makers thought it was a good idea to showcase the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, allowing their fans just enough time to fine-tune their Deshaun Watson defenses/signs. A week after adding a heavy dash of rape jokes to their tailgate parties, we’ll see how many mentions of it the guys in the booth give it. The pictures Sunday were impossible to ignore on Twitter, and it’s kind of a big story.
I mean we know how it goes for the NFL’s TV partners, and no one will be surprised if there’s little mention of Watson’s many settled cases or the lewd displays by the fecal matter that is the Browns’ fan base. However, Amazon owner/Dr. Evil’s dumber brother, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post and has led us to believe that he cares about journalistic integrity.
My guess is Al and Kirk will keep the broadcast of the NFL’s latest stain on morals pretty light with a lot of fake laughter and minimal brow furrowing. Roger Goodell looked like he was already sick of Bezos’ jokes during the cut-in we got last Thursday, and even the founder of Amazon has a clique he wants to infiltrate.
The Kenny Pickett watch began before the season even started, and with every Mitch Trubisky over-, under-, or what-the-fuck-were-you-looking-at throw, the clamoring for the rookie backup grows louder. In order to get away with being a terrible quarterback in Pittsburgh, you need a Super Bowl title in black and yellow. The only clout Trubisky has is with his head coach, and that might save his starting job for a few games too many.
Don’t tell that to Steelers fans, or any pundit on a sports morning show, because, until he gets benched, the topic du jour when talking about Pittsburgh will be Trubisky. Only the Bears and 49ers, who played against each other in an unrelenting downpour in Week 1, have fewer yards passing than the Steelers. Unfortunately, the Steelers running game is bottom 10 in the NFL, too.
Mike Tomlin could be, and hear me out, hesitant to put his rookie QB behind those offensive linemen for fear of losing his confidence. Why not run a veteran out there, who’s previously played behind poor lines, until he gets hurt? It doesn’t even really need to be an actual serious injury; just enough to miss a game and get Pickett some reps. There’s a solid chance that the inability to move the ball has more to do with just the guy under center.