Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit were a hit in the “Monday Night Football” booth.
The tandem drew overwhelming praise on social media as they called the first game of ESPN’s doubleheader Monday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.
The two have worked together for years calling ESPN’s marquee college football broadcasts. With their seamless transition to the NFL booth, many wondered why the network doesn’t promote the duo to its highest-profile game broadcast.
Herbsreit provided a simple answer on Tuesday in an interview with Pat McAfee. He doesn’t want the job.
“I am a college football junkie,” Herbstreit said during a conversation about the potential return of Big Ten football amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “ I am just — I loved what I did last night, but I don’t know if I could ever shut down college football and do NFL. College football feeds my soul, you know?”
ESPN’s ‘MNF’ problems
ESPN has struggled for years to find a successful “MNF” booth, which it revamped again this offseason after Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore — well, mostly Booger — were widely panned.
Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese called Monday’s late game between the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans and will man the “MNF” booth for the rest of the season.
ESPN’s fanbase isn’t likely to give them a long leash to develop chemistry. If they aren’t an early success, calls for Fowler and Herbstreit could renew.
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76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons don’t get along
76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons aren’t the cleanest on-court fit. Occasionally, they’ve shown signs of personal animosity.
But is there a full-blown rift between Embiid and Simmons?
Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (writing about Tyronn Lue’s coaching candidacy, which has taken a backseat to Mike D’Antoni’s):
As a Los Angeles Lakers player, Lue won NBA titles in 2000 and 2001 while playing with Hall of Famers and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who like Simmons and Embiid didn’t get along.
The Shaq-Kobe feud cut wide and deep. Does the Embiid-Simmons situation really match that?
It doesn’t have to in order to be a problem.
Shaq and Kobe were such good basketball players, they won three championships together despite their issues. Winning cures most ills. Shaq and Kobe worked through their differences while the Lakers were on top.
Though premier young talents, Embiid and Simmons aren’t Shaq and Kobe as players. The 76ers lost in the first round, a disappointing result that only increases pressure and tension.
For years, Philadelphia has committed to building around Embiid and Simmons. That appears to remain the plan.
That’s tricky enough simply based on their skill sets. It’s even more difficult if those two don’t get along.
Report: 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons don’t get along originally appeared on NBCSports.com
Serena Williams battles, then rolls into French Open second round
Serena Williams overcame early struggles, sweeping past countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-6 (2), 6-0 to reach the French Open second round.
Williams, again eyeing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, started out like somebody who went 16 months between clay-court matches. She needed 74 minutes to take the first set from the 102nd-ranked Ahn, recovering twice after having her serve broken.
She dominated the second set in 27 minutes, advancing to play Bulgarian and fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, a rematch of their three-set U.S. Open quarterfinal three weeks ago.
Williams, in long sleeves and tights, had 15 winners to 28 unforced errors in the first set in cloudy, sub-60-degree weather on Monday.
“I hate the cold. I’m from L.A. and I live in Florida,” Williams said before the tournament, which was postponed from its usual May/June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic. “For half my life I’ve never seen snow. Cold weather and me do not mix.”
FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule
Williams also noted before the tournament that she was “not at 100 percent physically” and spent most of her time in France “rehabbing” without giving specifics. She took a medical timeout with a left Achilles injury in her last match, a U.S. Open semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka,
“I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could perform,” Williams said Saturday. “I don’t know any athlete that ever plays physically when they’re feeling perfect. That’s just something I think as athletes we have to play with.”
Earlier Monday, newly crowned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem rolled 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets American Jack Sock, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 310. Sock took out countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 for his first main draw win at the French Open in four years.
Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title and male record-tying 20th Grand Slam singles title later Monday.
The French Open first round concludes Tuesday with top-ranked Novak Djokovic in action.
MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship
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Serena Williams battles, then rolls into French Open second round originally appeared on NBCSports.com
Bengals need to make changes to coaching staff, starting lineups or both
It might be time for those in charge of the Cincinnati Bengals organization to step in and do something about what’s happening on the field.
At some point, excuses have to fly out the window. Last year was a 2-14 season for Zac Taylor and his handpicked staff and the excuses flowed. They assembled late and were unable to change up the roster they inherited. The injury bug. Etc.
This year the Bengals are 0-2-1 and the excuses could flow again. There wasn’t a preseason. The team overhauled the roster. Etc. Yet the same problems as the year prior remain and Taylor is now 0-10-1 in one-score games.
And the most important factor of all: This mess could ruin Joe Burrow.
That’s what it’s all about now. Cincinnati was lucky enough to back into a franchise quarterback who at times already looks like a top-10 player. If the players in front of him and around him can’t help him, if the coaching staff can’t do right by him, the overarching organization needs to step in and make changes.
Doing so could be the difference between Burrow sticking around and pushing for contention or yet another franchise passer wanting to get out of town.
Taylor’s playcalling has mostly been miserable, especially in Week 3. His Lou Anarumo-directed defense still doesn’t want to tackle. His offensive line is still headed up by Jim Turner, he of an iffy pro resume to begin with but oddly defended by Taylor from Day 1, and they’re still trotting out Bobby Hart at right tackle and praying a mediocre-to-terrible cast of guards can somehow come together and make it work inside. Burrow has already been sacked 14 times with 11 hurries and 30 pressures on a pressure rate of 18.4 percent. He’s taking hits that go instantly viral and it’s clear to anyone who has watched football in the past that he might not make it through all 16 games.
It kills part of me they’ll bench John Ross after actively seeking out more guys to replace him but ignore clear problem areas on the offensive line in front of a No. 1 pick. I don’t know.
— Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) September 27, 2020
One could dismiss this in part as a rookie holding onto the ball too long. But flick on a random play and you’ll probably see some combination of Hart getting pushed back so hard it looks like he’s a bodyguard escorting the defender to the quarterback, Jonah Williams randomly losing all sense of how to function and some tandem of Michael Jordan, Fred Johnson and Billy Price getting plopped on their rear ends like they’re getting bullied at a middle schoool’s playground.
It’s bad and something has to change.
Burrow shouldn’t be putting up a 105.5 rating in a tie game. The head coach shouldn’t be openly admitting after the game they still don’t know how to fix the offensive line and spots like right guard. That same head coach shouldn’t be 0-10-1 in one-score games, almost regardless of context. That staff shouldn’t get the ball back confronted with a tie game near the end of overtime, tuck tail and run a draw to accept that tie.
Joe Mixon, on a fresh big-money extension, shouldn’t be getting just 17 carries, averaging 2.9 yards and getting just three targets through the air. The staff shouldn’t end up making a former top-10 wideout inactive because they rostered seven and just can’t figure out how to make it work.
One can pin this on execution by players too, of course. Why are defensive backs getting flagged twice on a potential game-ending drive before the Eagles force overtime? Why don’t defenders want to tackle, multiple times missing at or behind the line of scrimmage, only for the opponent to go pick up a first down? Why is there a miscommunication that lets up a touchdown before the half? Why doesn’t the offensive line…play even passable football by putting hands on someone?
The honeymoon is over. Now the Bengals are on the ruining Burrow clock. Spending big in free agency was good. Targeting guys from winning programs, pro or collegiate, was smart. But just getting those guys in the door doesn’t mean the winning starts. The Bengals shouldn’t be having tackling issues and one of the worst offensive lines ever assembled in modern times. Other teams faced a variety of challenges, including the odd summer, and aren’t playing like this. And the line problems, in particular, are extensions of self-inflicted wounds because if we’re being honest, a smart organization would still have Andrew Whitworth playing left tackle and Kevin Zeitler at right guard.
That organization can’t give another coaching staff a decade-long leash here. More like eight weeks. What’s the answer? Free agents, trades? Moving on from positional coaches? Darrin Simmons, head coach? Trying Fred Johnson at right tackle and giving Hakeem Adeniji at guard? Anything?
Point is, it never should’ve reached this point. A team backed into a generational talent at quarterback and fixed up plenty of areas on the roster…except the league-worst offensive line? And entrusted Jim Turner to magically squeak out better performances from guys who haven’t shown anything yet?
This isn’t how you win back fans and it’s not how you function around a special quarterback. There shouldn’t be whispers around the fanbase of “maybe Marvin Lewis was right.” It’s only three games into a season, but the stakes are higher now. If the last year has been a turning point for the organization, that needs to include better response times to obvious issues, especially when it’s a talent like Burrow at stake.
Anything less than immediate changes won’t sit well with fans — and rightfully so.
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