Big Lead Sports Bar


Someone Get Gus Johnson a Sedative

Editor's note 12/2/06: A welcome to all the reader's finding this piece after reading Bill Simmons' December 1, 2006 article mentioning Gus. If you like Simmons, odds are you will like Mondesi's House, especially if you're from Pittsburgh. So please feel free to look around. And now, on to what you really came for...some insight into the world of Gus Johnson...
There are pluses and minuses with having a bad season in the NFL. A plus is obviously a higher draft pick; a minus is the TV coverage for your favorite team. For the Phil Simms and Jim Nantz haters out there, just remember that they are CBS's #1 team.
That fact was made painfully obvious by Sunday's Steelers-Browns matchup in Cleveland. Fans were "treated" to the team of former Buffalo special teams wizard Steve Tasker and the always-excitable Gus Johnson. Johnson is so animated, he could make a broadcast of a Raiders-Texans game seem crucial. For those of you with sensitive ears, the volume of Johnson's voice could be very hazardous. Especially on that final call of the jump ball. I think my ears are still ringing.
Time to tune it down a notch, big guy. This is two teams battling to stay out of the basement, not the AFC Championship.
Announcers aside, this was a typical 2006 Steeler game. Which means they were wildly inconsistent, as we have come to expect: big plays for, big plays against, dumb penalties, Cowher Statue, bad special teams, Joey Porter yapping, etc.
The defense actually played OK, with the exception of the 14 play, 87 yard, 8:26 drive that somehow stalled and resulted in a mere three points. Unfortunately, defending Braylon Edwards (7 catches, 137 yards) was not Ike Taylor's finest hour. Ike had to return to the field after the game to retrieve his jock strap, which Edwards faked out on that 63-yard catch in the second quarter.
The D also managed to hold The Solider in check, with two of his four catches coming in a last gasp on the Browns' final drive. For Joey Porter haters, and there are many (including in Pittsburgh), they had to love the way Winslow casually tossed Porter aside in the second half. My only question: after today's game, does Winslow give a hell?

Large Benjamin redeemed himself after an atrocious first half. When the announcers said, "The Steelers have yet to figure out this Cleveland defense", that became the first time those words were spoken in the history of the NFL. Ben finished with 272 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, and a nice plant into the ground courtesy of Kamerion Wimbley. Was that the same guy who used to be on Fraggle Rock?

Seperated at birth...Wembley and Wimbley

The Steelers usually have a tough game when they run for less than 100 yards, and that held true again today. Of course, you usually need to give your top running back more than 16 carries to achieve that milestone, which did not happen today (although Willie proved last week he can surpass 100 with just two carries). But despite his lack of action, Parker was still a difference-maker, accounting for two of the Steelers' three touchdowns.

The other touchdown was scored by one San Antonio Holmes. As I watched the game with my brother, Ramon Mondesi, I commented that if not for his nightmarish punt returning experience, Holmes would be considered an above-average rookie contributor. As a returner he is a punchline, but as a receiver I think he's proven to be pretty tough so far. At this point in the season, I think he deserves to start over Cedrick Wilson, who has mastered the fine art of the mock flag-throw in lieu of a pass interference call. Nate Washington added two catches, but he dropped another one. He just can't help himself from giving his critics ammunition on a weekly basis.

And now we kick it to the special teams, who will probably give up a touchdown on the return. Sean Morey, the kick returner of the hour, pulled a 76-yarder out of his hat, which was a nice surprise. But with this unit, every upside has an equal (or worse) downside. The 92-yard kickoff return for a TD by Josh Cribbs after the Steelers pulled within three was catastrophic. Steelers special teams have become proficient in the momentum-killing play.

And what in the world has happened to Jeff Reed? Why has every kick for this guy become an event of "will he or won't he"? If he doesn't get that friendly bounce on the 43-yarder in the third quarter, his season percentage falls to 64.7%. This is an 80% career kicker. Is there a reason why this has been completely ignored by the masses?

Much like the Saints win, this isn't one that gets you too amped up for the stretch run. It was an ugly win that could've easily gone the other way. The Browns are one of a handful of teams capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory like they managed to do today.

If you're a Browns fan, I feel sorry for you. Not just for today's game, but in general, for following such a bad team all these years and having to live in Cleveland to boot. But seriously, how disheartening is it to lose like you did this afternoon? As much as the announcers tried to build him up, I was not blown away by Charlie Frye. His stats (17/27, 224 yards, 0 TDs or INTs) were acceptable, but he lost a fumble, couldn't finish that 8-minute drive, and what about that mess at the end of the first half? Picture it: the Browns are just inside Phil Dawson's range, and the braintrust of Frye and Crennel fail to get a play called in time. So the Browns take a 5-yard penalty and are forced to throw a pass that only Shaquille O'Neal would have a shot a pulling down. The pass falls incomplete and the Browns enter the half up 10 instead of 13. Those are the little things that keep bad teams down.

Next up for the black and gold is a matchup at the 8-2 Baltimorons on Sunday. How we've gone through 10 weeks of the season and not faced the Ravens is a fantastic question, but I fully expect a good game. If they can win a tough road matchup, it's back to Heinz Field for the Tampa Bay Gradkowskis in two weeks, with a shot at .500 on the line. The Steelers just refuse to let that little window still left in their season close. I give them credit, because they certainly could have mailed it in after that atrocity of a first half today.

So now I retreat to Phil Simms and Jim Nantz announcing Indy at Dallas for the second half of the CBS doubleheader. And from now on, I'm going to research the announcers for the Steeler games ahead of time. That way I can either put in some earplugs, turn down the set and turn up Hillgrove, or send Gus Johnson some Xanax before kickoff.


Anonymous said...

thats funny because i was thinking the same thing about gus johnson the whole game.......that and does steve tasker ever shut up? what a beat off. the difference in the game according to him was all the browns playmakers on offense that werent there last year, and what a difference they made......6 points on offense.
the browns mocked the steelers by imitating porters kick, and the steelers mocked the browns by playing like them for 3 quarters

Anonymous said...

Very good article, and website for that matter. I cant stand when we get gus johnson...he sucks.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, completion percentage aside, Ben really didn't play as bad as the numbers indicated in the first half.

EVERY interception he threw would have been an incomplete pass (or maybe even a complete pass) if the receivers didn't decide to tip, or in Ced Wilson's case head like a soccer ball, the ball directly to Browns defenders that otherwise wouldn't of had a chance in hell to make those plays.

There really should be a stat for when the receiver screws up like that bad. It's almost unfair to pin that totally on the QB as just an interception.

And was Steve Tasker the guy who during every Steelers late-game 80 yard touchdown drive would say "Giving up long drives like this is what the Cleveland's defense was designed to do"? The guy acted like we were actually falling right into the Brownies elaborate trap by being productive on offense.

Anonymous said...

I thought Joe Buck was bad for trying to manufacture drama and excitement, but apparently we need to rename that award for Gus Johnson.

I will say this...I had to listen to the last few minutes of the game on the radio yesterday. Hillgrove is terrific, but you could replace Tunch Ilkin in the booth with Rain Man right now and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

That's the only accurate comparison I can draw. Tunch is awful. He rambles on way too much - often color-commentating into the next play. Half the time, he's incapable of using complete sentences. And while Hillgrove is trying to describe what is happening on a big play, you've got to try to decipher it through a chorus of Tunch's "oh-oh-oh-oh-OHHHH!!!" outbursts in the background. And Joe Theismann may have met his match in the "well, back when I played" story-telling department. Tunch, you were in your prime right about the same time that Flock of Seagulls was in theirs. Shut the hell up.

The only thing worse are Wolfley's sideline reports, which bring absolutely nothing to the table. Someone seriously needs to drill it into this guy's meathead skull that he retired like 20 years ago and he's no longer part of the actual team. Wolfley is the broadcaster equivalent of the 50-year old fraternity alum who comes back every homecoming and humiliates himself by getting wasted and tries to hit on 18-year old coeds.

Not to be critical...

Unknown said...

I like Hillgrove a lot and I know that Tunch and Wolf have their flaws, but they're our guys. They know this team better than outsiders do and actually still act and feel as though they're still a part of the team, which they both were for many years.

I'm willing to look past flaws such as they have, because they really love the Black & Gold, like Myron always did.

As for those two goofs on the TV side, they were the best advertisement ever for turning down the sound and turning up the 'DVE broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Hillgrove is the worst of them all. when i listen to him in the car i never trust a damn thing he says. the line he says the most..."no, wait there now saying..."

Anonymous said...

Since we're talking about announcers...

I prefer my announcers to be excitable. Contrast Gus with Musburger, who sounded like he was asleep while calling the Michigan-OSU game...

As for Tunch, he's great. Far more insightful on the Xs and Os than the average color guy.

I don't like Hillgrove at all. He obsesses over what yard line the ball is on. "Willie Parker gains 2 yards to the 45, second and 8. No, let's call it a 3 yard gain to the 46, second and 7."

Listen for this, he does it at least ten times a game. As if one yard makes any difference at all.

And he's CONSTANTLY misidentifying players. Maybe that's the fault of his spotters, but it just makes him look bad.

Anonymous said...

I was once at a Steelers charity event and a lot of old players were in attendance. Everyone was standing around socializing and Tunch Ilkin was being sort of loud and going off on one of "back when I played" tangents.

Jack Lambert overheard what was going on and called out from across the room to get Tunch's attention. When Tunch turned to him, Lambert flipped him a quarter and said "call me when you're in the hall of fame".


Anonymous said...

I happen to think Gus Johnson is great...especially in stark contrast to Bryant "only everyone else is racist" Gumbell tonight...sounded like he was lost the entire night...the NFL network needs to get rid of his ass.
I love the excitement Gus puts into his broadcast...and I think he really loves the Black & Gold!

sick&tired said...

Tunch is by far the worst "Steeler" color man I have ever heard. I have been a Steeler fan since 1968. Myron could drive you crazy with the ouy and double ouy outbursts but he never spoke ill of the team he was being paid to comment about. Ilkin, you are not on national TV! In case you have some wild idea that maybe by being Mr. Objective you might get noticed by a national broadcast company, forget about it!! You're in Steeler Country, love it or leave it! I am seriously considering to start a pettion to have you railroaded out of town. Get smart fella and stop bitting the ears that feed you.