The Joe Tessitore-Jason Witten-Booger McFarland Monday Night Football crew has been very, hmm, uneven in its first season. Tessitore is blandly Fine; Witten sometimes talks himself into dizzying circles; McFarland’s sideline scooter seems to produce an awful lot of confusion in his analysis. If you are a fan of awkward football commentary, the following will register as good news: These three silly gents will reportedly return to their roles for the 2019 season.
ESPN viewers should expect to see and hear Witten plenty this spring. Studio work, live television hits and radio appearances will be his broadcast version of an NFL team’s offseason workout program as he prepares for his sophomore season in the booth.
And to be clear, everyone on this crew expects to return to the Monday Night Football crew in 2019 with the same overall setup – Tessitore and Witten in the booth, McFarland and Salters on the sideline, and the talent all have multi-year contracts telling them as much.
These couple lowlights from tonight’s Saints-Panthers game aren’t necessarily offered in service of any broader point, but they’re characteristic of the trio, and are good for a chuckle. Here’s McFarland with a mind-bogglingly dumb analogy about stats and bikinis:
They show some things but not all things is a really useless point to make about statistics when the nuance that McFarland subsequently, uhh, exposes is itself measured adequately by a perfectly cheap box score statistic, and even more accurately by a clean advanced statistic. So, yes, statistics do not show nipples, but they very much do show every detail of Cam Newton’s passing attempts.
Later, here’s Witten describing an unexpected strength of Cam Newton’s game:
Witten probably meant to say “run after contact,” because Cam Newton has caught exactly one pass in 123 career NFL regular season games. Presumably Witten and McFarland will get better at this with more work, but there’s something charmingly chaotic about how often the two of them appear to be watching completely different games, and how often Tessitore will shout over them in order to drag the conversation back into the moment. They’re not exactly good at this, but at least there are few dry moments. The Athletic published a lengthy look behind the scenes as the trio learns and adjusts on the job, and I suggest reading the whole thing.