It may have seemed like a good idea at the time but you have to wonder what FOX was thinking when it paired Ron Pitts and Mike Martz to call the Panthers-Buccaneers game on Sunday. The duo turned a basic, regional broadcast into a mutual admiration society intent on talking to each other than the fan who tuned in...................................it left the viewer to wonder what game they were watching.
Martz may have been trying too hard to make a good first impression as he tended to get long winded describing a play. In fact there were times when his ramblings went into the start of the next one. And despite this failing Pitts kept inviting him to offer more asking things like, “As a head coach what would you have done?” It happened more often than not...........................................................On one play Josh Norman was called for pass interference. Pitts and Martz used the replay to point out the alleged infraction then failed miserably in critiquing it. The ball landed more than ten yards over the heads of intended target Vincent Jackson and Norman yet there was no mention about the pass being uncatchable which might have negated the flag. The replay also indicated that a holding penalty could have been called in lieu of interference making it five yards instead of the 22 it cost Carolina.
In another case where a replay gave viewers the huh?-factor, LaGarrette Blount was down on the field after being tackled and the camera zeroed in on the Bucs’ running back holding his calf while flexing it as if he had a cramp. Pitts surmised it was a leg injury and after a commercial break the play was shown again and Martz tried to use it to substantiate Pitts’ claim. The camera immediately switched to the Tampa Bay sideline and there was Blount standing with his teammates waiting to return to the game.
Pitts and Martz attention to detail was lacking throughout and nothing proved the point more than two instances where the camera contradicted them. The pair made no apologies for calling an off-side as an illegal procedure, and as the Panthers tried to make a late game charge, Steve Smith was described as being shaken up after an incomplete pass. Problem was, the wide receiver was shown trying to squeeze his foot back into his shoe and immediately popped up to run back to the huddle after getting it done.
The game was blacked out in the Tampa Bay area because there were a lot of fans disguised as empty seats. Sure it was disappointing that only 51,533 people at Raymond James Stadium saw their team get an improbable win - the actual head count was probably half that – but the rest of the folks that got the game saw an inferior broadcast from a superior network.
If Ron Pitts and Mike Martz are teamed to call another game for FOX, it might be better to mute the TV and turn on the radio. The local announcers might actually have their heads pointed in the direction of the field for most of the game.