NFL ANALYST

Cassel: How 'MNF' crew blew up Belichick's spot on Josh Allen

NFL ANALYST

I’ve been in a lot of NFL production meetings. You go in the day before a game and you’re a lot more open, because the broadcasters are looking to tell a story on the air.

You’re behind closed doors, so you can be a little more free with your thoughts. You might say, "Hey, Josh Allen’s success rate against us is not the same as it’s been against other teams. This guy is having tremendous year, but I don’t know if he should be considered in the MVP discussion."

But I don’t think ESPN's broadcasters, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, did Bill Belichick any favors by blowing him up -- basically taking their private conversation and saying, "Well, Bill Belichick said he wasn't an elite quarterback yesterday." 

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Because I’m pretty sure from now on, they're going to get nothing more than standard stuff from Bill in these meetings.

Normally, guys are pretty honest in production meetings. I'd say things like, "I think we can take advantage of this cornerback; he’s struggled." Or, "We’re prepared for their blitz package and we’ve got some things that we might show this week, and we want to get started early." Just to give them something.

 

Fans and broadcasters just see the final product. When we see an incomplete pass, we don’t know what route pattern was called, whether the wide receiver was at the wrong depth or if there was a protection breakdown on the offensive line. So, it's hard sometimes to be an evaluator when you don’t know specifically what’s being asked of a player.

In the production meetings, you can get into those details: “This is where our struggles lie. We haven’t been consistent in the passing game because of this reason and this reason." And then the broadcasters can go with that, because normally they take care of you.

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But then you have moments like Monday night.

Belichick probably made a general comment based on his full evaluation of Allen and what he’s done against the Patriots over the years, because New England has had success against him and had success earlier this year. So, there was no evidence to say that Allen was going to play the way that he did, other than the fact that he has been playing really good football lately.

Bill's point was probably just, "I think we’ve got a good game plan and we think that we can hopefully contain him in this game." It didn’t work out that way, obviously, and maybe that changes his perspective. But I felt like the announcers could have done a better job of protecting Bill in that circumstance and not throwing him under the bus.

Because when the game got out of hand, it made Bill look bad, and then of course it becomes a storyline.

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Broadcasters usually aren't trying to blow you up and make you look foolish when things don’t go the way you had predicted in the production meeting. They usually protect you a little more, at least in my experience. Because if they don’t, then players are a lot more guarded when they come in, and they become callous to the fact that you might throw them under the bus.

As a player or coach, you're trying to give broadcasters enough information so that they can tell their story and be on top of what they’re talking about. And if the circumstances change, it’s their job to change that perspective while protecting the player or coach who gave them the information.

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That didn't happen Monday night, and I would expect Belichick to be a bit more guarded in production meetings as a result.