The return of Lions preseason football on Saturday night was a great thing, as it was nice to see the team again and it is an indication that the regular season is right around the corner. The one downside of watching Lions preseason football, however, is that those of us in Michigan are stuck with WWJ (CBS Detroit) covering the games. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, because many are unable to watch the games at all, but it is an absolute embarrassment for the Lions and the NFL in general to have such shoddy coverage of their games.
Last year, my biggest beef with WWJ was that their games were not even in HD. Luckily, that is no longer the case this year, but the picture quality doesn't mean much if you can't even operate a camera or produce a game correctly. Those are just two of the issues with WWJ's coverage of the Lions, and the full list can be seen after the jump.
- The camera crew does not know how to shoot a football game. Cameras are often zoomed in too much, preventing viewers from seeing anything more than the player with the ball. The picture needs to be zoomed in enough so we're not watching the action from too far away, but it shouldn't be so zoomed in that we can't see plays develop or watch action beyond the ball carrier.
- WWJ's issues with zooming in too much are even more magnified when the cameras can't keep track of the ball. On a few occasions in the first half alone of the Steelers game there would be a fake or something and the cameraman would be completely fooled, losing track of who has the ball. This would lead to the camera being zoomed out and jerked around as the operator of it tried to get the play back in the picture.
- Beyond the issues with the cameraman, the producer of the game -- the person in charge of using the right shots -- should be canned. Plays were missed because replays were shown for too long or better yet, because there was a shot from the sideline of Steve Courtney and Charlie Sanders. Accidents happen in coverage of football games, as it's not an easy job, but this just seems like complete incompetence. There's no excuse for missing a third down play because you didn't change shots quickly enough. Actually, you should know not to go to a sideline shot before third down, as that is a play you can't afford to potentially screw up.
- If you are going to put up a graphic showing the Lions' schedule, get the dates correctly. They were all a day off, so I'm assuming they simply edited the graphic from last year and forgot to change the dates. How can you honestly be that lazy?
- Before the weather delay, the TV feed completely died. This was later blamed on the weather, but when it happened it was only raining. I can understand how the weather can wreak havoc on a TV broadcast signal, but the Steelers' TV network was up and running without any issues as far as I know. WWJ, on the other hand, lost the feed for five or so minutes (see the picture earlier in the post) and couldn't even manage to pipe the audio in for us.
- With an unexpected weather delay, it was necessary to kill a lot of time. For the first half of the delay or so, WWJ ran pieces from the pregame show that we all missed due to golf. That was nice. But then they decided to just go to local programming until play resumed, yet there were no updates provided on when the game would get underway again. That is a great way to lose viewers, as they had to check the Internet to find out when the game would be back on. I don't necessarily expect them to kill time throughout the entire delay and not go to local programming, but at least run a crawler providing updates.
- No offense to Matt Shepard, but I want Gus Johnson back. I know Gus has hit the big time now, but it'd be nice to have announcers that are used to covering NFL games, as it is not fun to listen to people who don't seem to know what they're talking about. The same goes for Rob Rubick, who can't even tell Jon Jansen and Dan Gronkowski apart. It's one thing for opposing announcers to not know the names of Lions players, but the hometown crew should know the roster inside and out.
- This isn't really a complaint, but how funny was it when Steve Courtney was talking about how rain makes his hair feel soft? He didn't realize the camera switched back to him and looked quite embarrassed when it finally dawned on him that he was live.
Perhaps I'm being a little too tough on WWJ considering they aren't used to covering football games, but I'm sorry, this is the NFL. The quality of the broadcast should not rival that of a public access show. Heck, I think my local high school's TV station does a better job of covering football than this. There's no excuse for having so many errors and in general just doing a terrible job of covering the game.
I've been able to watch other broadcasts of preseason games on NFL Network, and I can say without question that WWJ has done the worst job by far. It's just excruciating to watch, and it reflects poorly on the Lions. I really think they should drop WWJ next year and find a new TV partner -- one that actually has a clue of how to cover a football game.