This is a rant about Brian Billick. If you are not interested in reading a rant about Brian Billick, do not read the rest of this post.
Speak unscripted for three hours and you are going to say something stupid. You will mangle names. You will misdiagnose plays. Much of fan criticism of announcers is petty. It's hater culture. I think the overall quality of NFL announcing could be better, but I don't think the men in the booth are boobs or amateurs.
Brian Billick was almost intolerable. His commentary seemed canned and inappropriate. Lawrence Jackson ran around Adam Snyder for a fast front-side sack, and Billick talked about the coverage scheme. He responded to a wildly inaccurate pass by Shaun Hill by questioning the play call. Billick repeated that the offense might try "running a hard play-action and passing down field" until one team actually did it. He referred to the offense as "we", "us" and "our", once talking about how "we" might run a hard play-action pass down field once "we" convert this third and nine.
Most significantly, Billick offered almost no insight into what was happening on the field. San Francisco ran a misdirection pitch to Frank Gore, and Billick didn't mention how the play targeted Seattle's inexperienced backup linebackers. San Francisco ran an almost identical play one play later, but Seattle had adjusted. Aaron Curry was on the weak side, ready to tackle Gore behind the line, but he overpursued and Gore turned the corner. On the replay, Billick said "Everybody commits to it, has eyes on the fullback and that got Frank Gore around the edge" as if Curry didn't exist. Curry wasn't mentioned at all. Instead we got a shot of Josh Morgan holding Josh Wilson by his jersey and praise from Billick for his blocking. As if the lines were being fed to him and there was no chance to adjust to what was actually happening on the field. The NFL doesn't like it when commentators point out missed penalties, but can we at least not insult the viewers by calling a clear hold a good block?
Misspeak, flub a name, say something stupid, but be insightful. Billick could hardly break his monotony of "rhythm", "pace", "rhythm" and "establish". Litany weasel words that mean little but "accomplish". Do we need a persistent reminder that an offense should complete its passes and run for positive yards? Why do commentators insist on saying a good offensive series is the offense "getting into a rhythm"? I don't think I have ever felt as distracted and annoyed by a commentator as I did Billick. Does he really have so much cachet as a coach that his work as a commentator doesn't matter? The USA is filled with retired players and coaches. Find one that can watch a game and see the matchups, game plans and subtleties most fans miss. Don't just hire the most noteworthy name that was most recently fired.
That little rant covers most of what happened. Lawrence Jackson showed progress as a pass rusher. He edge rushed, but instead of stalling or cutting too deep, he got position on Snyder, stopped, swam the recovering and unsteady tackle and took a good angle to Hill to convert the sack. Darryl Tapp saved a long play on the first pitch out. He was the only Seahawk who diagnosed the play and ran into the left flat to tackle Gore. Without him, that could have been another long run. And Craig Terrill pressured Shaun Hill just enough to make him overthrow a wide open Isaac Bruce coming across on a deep crossing route. The pass still hit Bruce in the hands, but he was outstretched and stumbling to reach the ball. No Terrill, and Hill has that extra split second to time his pass and give Bruce a more catchable pass.