Seven TV questions we wonder about as the season passes the halfway point:
1) Why can't CBS, Fox and the NFL agree to change the rule and allow us to be switched to the full conclusion of other games that go past 4:15 p.m. ET? At least six times this season, Fox or CBS has switched us to other games before 4:15, then had to take us away from those games because of rules designed to protect the doubleheader network. CBS did switch most of the country to the entire overtime of the Week Nine Jets-Lions game that stretched past 4:15, but CBS was allowed to do that because it had the doubleheader.
2) Why does CBS allow sponsorship deals to affect programming? At halftime, we don't always get the traditional stats (rushing yards, passing yards, etc.), but we get the "Allstate points of protection." — numbers often reflecting how the quarterback is being protected.
3) Why does CBS' James Brown chortle practically every time the studio show goes to commercial, even when nothing amusing has been said?
4) Why does Fox bother asking Jimmy Johnson about San Diego's problems when he doesn't hide the fact that Norv Turner is one of his closest friends? Even Howie Long and Michael Strahan say Johnson "is kissing up to his buddy Norv." J.J. clearly won't criticize Turner, so why put him in that position?
5) Why does Fox even bother with a pregame prediction segment when the analysts just shout the name of a team and don't have time to explain their picks?
6) Why does CBS insist on Bill Cowher narrating highlights when he stumbles over names and clearly is there to analyze the games instead? Let Brown handle those highlights.
7) Why doesn't someone at Fox tell Brian Billick he could be a very good analyst if he didn't talk so much? There's a soliloquy after every play.
AROUND THE DIAL
• Too often, analysts try to seek some psychological reason for a team's success. CBS' Steve Beuerlein said, "What makes the Ravens' defense good is Ray Lewis says every time they are on the field, they [believe they] will not be scored on." Really? I always thought it was the Ravens' talent that made them good.
• NFL analysts almost never question a player's heart for running out of bounds after a reception, but Michael Irvin took that bold step on NFL Network when he bashed the Cowboys' Jason Witten for scampering to the sideline instead of taking on Antrel Rolle. A player's heart should be questioned in this instance only if there's a recurring pattern.
• Good to see NBC's Rodney Harrison come out of his shell on Halloween and show the type of candor that distinguished his work last season. On Mike Shanahan's decision to use Rex Grossman instead of Donovan McNabb with the Redskins trailing by six late in the Lions game, Harrison asked, "What does it tell you about the coaching staff" that it couldn't get McNabb ready for that situation? And to remove him "especially for Rex Grossman? Are you kidding me?"
Barry Jackson covers sports media for the Miami Herald.
This column was originally published in the current print edition of Pro Football Weekly (cover date: Nov. 14, 2010), the midseason awards issue, which features reports on all 32 teams, as well as Week 10 game previews and timely fantasy football and handicapping info. The print edition is on sale at retail outlets, or you can purchase a copy (print or electronic) at PFWstore.com.