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01-28-2019, 04:35 AM,
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Jason Witten sat in a room with his new teammates going over video of his latest performance.It wasn't much different than what he did for 15 seasons as a tight end with the Dallas Cowboys. But instead of being one of the faces of perhaps the NFL's most high-profile franchise http://www.ramsauthorizedshops.com/authe...ald-jersey , Witten holds one of the most prominent television jobs in the sport: lead analyst for ESPN's "Monday Night Football."Witten is approaching his new role in similar fashion as he did his old one, when his comprehensive film work made him the second-most productive tight end in NFL history."That's where you really learn and grow, the ability to go back and see it," Witten said. "Sometimes it's good and you're like we need to build on that. Sometimes it's not so good and you're like, man, I'm so disappointed that was a bad rep."No different than a route that you run and that's not what you're looking for. What gives me confidence is diving into that process and doing it with guys who I enjoy being around and they have the same mindset."Witten is part of a brand new announcing team for ESPN after Jon Gruden left the analyst chair for a second stint as Oakland Raiders head coach. Witten joins play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore, who switched jobs with Sean McDonough, who went back to college games; on-field analyst Booger McFarland; and the only returning member of the team in sideline reporter Lisa Salters. The group makes the regular-season debut Sept. 10 when Gruden's Raiders host the Los Angeles Rams.This team was put together following an exhaustive search that featured auditions with about 13 analysts. The tests were thorough, featuring dinners at Tessitore's house to see what kind of off-screen rapport could be built, as well as practice games in a studio.Tessitore and producer Jay Rothman were in agreement that the team of Tessitore, Witten and McFarland was the best. Then began the process of making that belief come true.The offseason has been spent doing rehearsal games in studios and at stadiums; holding film sessions; having countless discussions and text message exchanges; sharing dinners and drinks; and broadcasting two preseason games.All in an effort to build the chemistry that will make for a smooth telecast each week.Tessitore said he's already spent more time with this team before the start of this season than he did in an entire season with his college crews."In all my years of broadcasting, I only know one way to be on a crew, and that's you're now my brothers and my family. That's the only way I know it to be," Tessitore said."That means that you're at my house for dinner, we're hanging out together and we're working out together Greg Zuerlein Jersey , drinking wine together, traveling together, texting each other, communicating and we know each other's families inside and out, and we're serving each other. That just gets extended to the broadcast when the red light turns on. That's critically important to me."This new group of announcers is being thrust onto one of the biggest stages in broadcasting. "Monday Night Football" has featured some of the industry's titans over the years: announcers Howard Cosell, Al Michaels and John Madden; Super Bowl-winning coaches and quarterbacks Gruden and Joe Theismann; and Hall of Famers Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf and Dan Fouts.This crew starts with far fewer accomplishments. Tessitore has had several roles at ESPN for 16 years, doing boxing, horse racing and college football and basketball. This is by far his highest-profile job.McFarland started at the SEC Network in 2014 and has done only a handful of games in his career. Witten is a television rookie following in the footsteps of his former Cowboys teammate Tony Romo, who went from the field to the broadcast booth to great acclaim last year as CBS' lead analyst."He did an incredible job," Witten said. "As a friend, I'm proud of him. It's not easy for him to have that success. Although I recognize I'll always be compared to that and that's what's going to happen, I really don't try to compete from that standpoint."The new crew will also have a bit of a new approach with McFarland, a former NFL defensive tackle, serving as an on-field analyst from a mobile crane that will be positioned about 10 feet off the ground at the line of scrimmage.McFarland will have a desk with monitors showing replays Authentic Tyler Higbee Jersey , stats and a live look into the broadcast booth, where Tessitore and Witten will have a camera on McFarland to make it a seamless team."I kept using the words extension of the booth," Rothman said. "How can we give Booger the resources that Jason has up top to truly be an extension of the booth, and how can we make that work and not worry about the orchestration and stepping on each other?"Rothman came up with the idea while shaving in May and immediately presented it to his technical staff. Four months later, McFarland did his first game from the "Booger Mobile."He said this setup allows him to contribute as a full-fledged third man in the booth rather than a sideline analyst needing permission to get on the broadcast, and gives him a better appreciation of what's happening on the field."It's an entirely different feel," he said. "You can see the play, but there's a difference between seeing it and feeling it. Feeling a guy's speed and power is just a different deal. It's actually been pretty cool. Once you understand the mechanics of it, it's worked pretty well."With so many new parts, the crew understands this will be a work in progress, but the members are excited to see how it all develops."There's still a learning process for all of us," Rothman said. "We'll be a lot different in Week 8, a lot different in Week 15 and a lot different in Year 2. All for the good. But it's been fun." If you’re looking for a foreshadowing of a possible NFC Championship matchup, this is the one.The Los Angeles Rams remain undefeated at 8-0 and visit the New Orleans Saints who are 6-1 obtaining their single loss in week one.The two heavyweights will duke it out in a game that may very well end up deciding who could get home field advantage (as well as a playoff bye week) in the playoffs.Let’s take a look at the matchups to watch:CB Marcus Peters vs WR Michael ThomasAfter a solid game or two, Peters once again struggled last Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers. Davante Adams routinely got the best of Peters. This week he’ll likely draw a ton of Thomas who is one of the best receivers in the league. Thomas has 58 receptions for 669 yards and four touchdowns on the season. A route running technician with vice hands for grips Youth Michael Brockers Jersey , Thomas is a severely underrated player. Even though things point to Thomas having the upper hand in this game, I think Peters might perform well. Thomas isn’t a speedy receiver who specializes in going deep, so Peters will have the opportunity to create a cushion between himself and Thomas and let his instincts do the rest.WR Cooper Kupp vs CB P.J. WilliamsFrom all accounts it sounds like Kupp will return to the field on Sunday and that’ll prove to be huge for the offense. Not only is Kupp simply a tremendous player who can gain separation on any cornerback, he’s crucial on third downs and extending drives. This week he’ll fetch Williams in coverage who is, well.... not good. Even though Williams won a player of the week award this week for his pick-six against the Vikings, he was absolutely abused all game in coverage. Kupp should have an absolute field day against Williams.OLB Dante Fowler Jr vs OT’s Terron Armstead/Ryan RamczykIf you want to see an immediate battle and test for Fowler, it’s this week. The edge rusher has two sacks on the season but has proven to be a pest for opposing tackles when rushing the passer. This week Fowler (and the other Rams edge’s) will face PFF’s #2 and #3 rated offensive tackle’s on the season in Armstead and Ramcyzk. I wouldn’t expect a ton of production because these bookend tackles are simply terrific, but the interior pass rush (Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Brockers) should be a whole lot more productive.RT Rob Havenstein vs DE Cameron JordanConversely, the Rams themselves have a fantastic pair of tackles and this week their RT Rob Havenstein will battle against one of the best defensive ends in the league in Jordan. Jordan has five sacks on the season and is a major player in run defense. On the flip side, Havenstein is PFF’s 5th-overall tackle so he’s pretty damn good himself.QB Jared Goff vs Saints’ secondaryJared Goff has played the Saints twice in his short career. Jared Goff has also torched the Saints defense twice in his short career. In two games vs the Saints he’s combined for 568 passing yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. This time around I wouldn’t be shocked if Goff could get relatively close to eclipsing that in one game (Say 400+ yards and 4+ TD’s). The Rams’ offense will be humming.ILB Mark Barron/Cory Littleton vs RB Alvin KamaraKamara is one of the leagues most dangerous weapons as he can make plays both as a runner and receiver. Kamara already has nine touchdowns on the season and nearly 800 combined yards. Kamara torched the Rams in 2017 with a combined 190 yards and two touchdowns.
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