A six-pack of media notes on a Monday:
▪ Talking heads on network television have generally been enthusiastic about the Dolphins’ augmented offensive cast.
But ESPN’s Marcus Spears took it to another level - and good for him - by declaring the other day that “this is going to be hell on wheels to try to get these dudes stopped, with the amount of speed. There is nothing about this offense that defenses won’t lose sleep over.”
Spears implored coach Mike McDaniel to “use Tyreek Hill like you’ve seen him being used and destroy defenses. They’ve got another guy in Jaylen Waddle that can destroy defenses in a very similar way.
“You’re got Mike Gesicki at tight end, who wins 50-50 balls, who I think is going to be a phenomenal player, not to mention a stalwart left tackle who came over in Terron Armstead. Tyreek Hill with the ball in his hands is one of the most devastating things in the NFL.”
▪ The 33rd Team, a think tank founded by ESPN analyst and former Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum, wrote an interesting piece exploring the extent to which Hill can help McDaniel get the most out of Tua Tagovailoa.
Former NFL offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told writer Peter Engler that run-pass options “are something that Tua has been doing from the time he was in high school. He did it at Alabama. He’s been very good at it. The great thing about this is that it’s easy completions for the quarterback. It’s him coming out of the opening series or the first couple series and you say ‘Hey, I’m seven of eight and I really haven’t done much to throw the ball deep down the field. I’m kind of taking what the defense gives me.’
“I think this is something that’s going to be really good to get Tua going early. What does it do for Tyreek? It gets him touches. Any play caller is going to have a sheet that says, ‘I’ve got to get the ball to this guy, and these are the 12-to-14 ways I’m going to do it with a premier player like Tyreek Hill.”
The 2021 Dolphins had the most run-pass option pass attempts in the NFL last season and were seventh in yards per attempt on those plays, per Engler. And Hill had 20 RPO catches last season for Kansas City.
Scottenheimer said of Tagovailoa: “Does he have the strongest arm in the NFL? No, he doesn’t. Does he have enough arm strength? Yes, he does. They need to figure out which deep balls Tua throws the best. He gives guys a chance to go fight for balls. He does a nice job on go routes, throwing it with anticipation, the inside fade, and he does a really good job on the 50/50 passes.”
We recommend the article.
▪ Amazon Prime has nearly finalized its talent lineup for its first season as the NFL’s Thursday night rights-holder.
And it’s a very strong group, with all-time great Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit in the booth and Fox’s Charissa Thompson anchoring the studio show.
Tony Gonzalez, Richard Sherman and Ryan Fitzpatrick are expected to be studio analysts, and Aqib Talib and Andrew Whitworth will have a role.
Gonzalez is polished but not particularly interesting.
Fitzpatrick - with his engaging personality and self-deprecating sense of humor - can become a star in the business if he says what he genuinely thinks instead of trying to preserve relationships with the hundreds of players with whom he shared a locker-room.
Herbstreit, who’s studious and prepared, will try to juggle Thursday night games with ESPN’s Saturday college football studio show and ABC’s Saturday night games. It’s a lot for one person to do, but Herbstreit wanted to scratch his NFL itch, and there was no opportunity to do that at ESPN because of Troy Aikman’s hiring for Monday Night Football.
Kaylee Hartung, who previously worked at ESPN, left her role as an ABC news reporter - she made frequent appearances on David Muir’s weeknight newscast - to become Amazon’s NFL sideline reporter.
▪ Disney, Apple and Amazon have all submitted bids to become the new rights-holder for NFL Sunday Ticket, according to CNBC. DirecTV is entering its final season carrying Sunday Ticket.
The NFL said Sunday Ticket will be available as a streaming service in 2023 and beyond, with games potentially to be carried on other platforms as well. Disney would carry the games on ESPN plus, Amazon on Amazon Prime and Apple on Apple TV.
The NFL and the Sunday Ticket rights-holder presumably will find a way to continue airing games in restaurants and sports bars.
And as PFT’s Mike Florio noted earlier this year, the winning bidder likely would have the chance to sell satellite rights to consumers who don’t have the Internet service needed for reliable streaming.
Unfortunately, there’s no indication that the NFL will begin permitting viewers to pay to receive only their favorite team’s games, as opposed to the entire package. CBS and Fox reportedly have a contractual guarantee that Sunday Ticket will cost no less than $300.
During the 2021 season, DirecTV charged $300 for their base Sunday Ticket package and $400 for an advanced version. According to Front Office Sports, two million viewers paid for Sunday Ticket last year.
▪ Quick stuff Part 1: Former Marlins CEO Derek Jeter did 30 hours of interviews for ESPN’s documentary on him, which debuts July 18… Katie Gaus, the Panthers’ social media reporter and a sideline presence on Bally Sports Florida’s Panthers cablecasts, took a job with Altitude TV (a sports network) in Denver…
ESPN’s documentary on Dick Vitale debuts July 20 on ESPN plus and July 23 on ESPN... Jamie Erdahl left her job as sideline reporter on CBS’ SEC football package to replace Kay Adams as host of NFL Net’s morning show....
ABC averaged 12.4 million viewers for the NBA Finals (down 18 percent from the last pre-COVID NBA Finals, Warriors-Raptors, in 2019). By comparison, ABC averaged 4.6 million viewers for the Stanley Cup Finals (Colorado-Tampa Bay). The recent NBA draft averaged 3.0 million viewers on ABC and ESPN.
▪ Quick stuff Part 2: Local telecasts of MLS matches - such as My-33’s and CBS-4’s broadcasts of Inter Miami games - will be discontinued once Apple TV takes over the entire MLS TV package next season, the first year of a 10-year deal… Trevor Immelman is replacing the retiring Nick Faldo as CBS’ lead golf analyst….
Both UF and FSU have new radio voices. North Dakota State radio voice Jeff Culhane is succeeding the legendary Gene Deckerhoff as voice of the Seminoles; Deckeroff is retiring after 43 years. And ESPN’s Sean Kelley replaced Mick Hubert, who was voice of the Gators for 33 years before retiring...
If you missed it, here was my colleague David J. Neal’s obituary on Hank Goldberg, who passed away last Monday in Las Vegas at 82, while I was out.
Beyond Goldberg’s work as a Dolphins analyst and national NFL and horse racing commentator, he and John Moynihan were South Florida sports talk radio pioneers in the 1980s, essentially introducing to our market a new medium for South Florida fans to consume and discuss sports. Moynihan died in 2002 and is buried in Glens Falls, N.Y.