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Sound bites

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 28, 2002

Rob Johnson, you are not very good. You hold the ball too long, bail too quickly, make poor decisions and for that reason you have become a journeyman quarterback who is quickly wearing out your welcome in Tampa Bay. Heck, you're no better than Carolina rookie Randy Fasani, and just prove the brilliance of Brad Johnson, who at least has enough sense to give up on plays and throw the ball away. Mister, you're no Shaun King.

* * *

There, that should just about wrap up Sunday's FOX broadcast by Dick Stockton, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth.

You could argue that the FOX trio was a tad harsh. Then again, you also could argue that they weren't so far off.

Some other observations from Sunday's broadcast:

* * *

GRADE B+: The Fox team was markedly better than last week. Stockton was solid and even threw in a little analysis, mixing better with his cohorts. Collinsworth was the snide but honest analyst to Aikman's correcting big brother. Stockton doled out good play-by-play, and Aikman and Collinsworth engaged in a number of debates that made a great case for the three-man booth.

THE WINNER IS: The big debate of the day was over Carolina's safe offense. Collinsworth ripped the Panthers, while Aikman thought it was a good idea considering the game was close and, well, the Bucs offense was hardly going to threaten to break it open.

"I'm sorry but this is getting a little comical out here," Collinsworth said. "I know you want to be conservative and not make the big mistakes, but you also have to take a shot at winning the football game."

Aikman retorted: "Well, it's a 3-0 ballgame and they have to be careful."

The winner? Aikman, clearly. The Panthers were in the game with a chance to win it at the end playing safe and conservative, and when Fasani did go deep he was picked off (and then, go figure, criticized by Collinsworth).

MISSED MOMENTS: If ESPN can switch to every Barry Bonds at-bat when he's chasing some record, and never miss the final two innings of a potential no-hitter or perfect game, why can't FOX give us Emmitt Smith setting the NFL record for rushing yards live? How about a split screen? After all, the Dallas game was on FOX as well. That is awful.

FOX also failed us on updates about Kerry Jenkins' injury (nor mentioned the fact he broke his leg earlier this season when he first went down), and they had a great shot when Anthony McFarland broke his forearm and didn't use it. Perhaps you remember the play when Fasani scrambled and leapt over one player and collided midair with McFarland, who fell in a heap as Fasani got the first down? Yep, that was the play (and would explain why a 300-pound lineman crumpled after a collision with 234-pound quarterback).

BEST LINE: After officials threw a flag that looked like a pass interference call, they instead called what the replay showed to be a nonexistent facemask. That prompted Collinsworth to say: "That's a 'It wasn't pass interference, but I threw my flag so let's make something else up.' "

TRUE THAT: Stockton said Rob Johnson looked "disheveled" after losing a fumble. Nice word, great description.

OUCH: After another sack of Johnson, Collinsworth said "that is Rob Johnson's career in a nutshell."

Then they all piled on, even Stockton. Aikman was especially critical, but less shrill than Collinsworth. He said Johnson should know better (to get rid of the ball), expressed amazement that Johnson made a terrible handoff to late in the game and was flabbergasted when Johnson took his time and got a delay of game penalty -- "There is no excuse for that to happen."

YOUR STATS WERE? "I'm more qualified to throw a touchdown pass than this guy," said former wide receiver Collinsworth, saying Fasani should not be allowed to throw near the goal line.

SMOOTH and COOL:With all the Johnson criticism, it wasn't suggested once that Shaun King replace him. But when he did, the FOX crew fell instantly in love. They called him "cool as a cucumber" and raved as if he had just driven 80 yards for a winning score, providing fuel for local sports radio this week.


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