ESPN NFL Programming Update


ESPN NFL Programming Update

 Tony Romo and the Cowboys Host Jay Cutler and the Bears on ESPN’s Monday Night Football

In Monday Night Football’s week four game, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys will host Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears on October 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Cowboys have 43 wins on MNF – the most of any team. Announcer Mike Tirico, analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters will call the action. 

This NFC showdown marks Tirico’s 100th regular-season game as a MNF announcer. Tirico is only one of six MNF announcers to reach this milestone — Howard Cosell, Dan Dierdorf, Frank Gifford, Don Meredith and Al Michaels. Gifford — who worked 411 games — holds the record.

MNF will air on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The game will also be available at (computers) and via the WatchESPN app (tablets) for fans who receive their video subscriptions from an affiliated provider.

Preceding the game, Chris Berman will host Monday Night Countdown (at 6:30 p.m., ESPN) with  analysts Cris CarterMike DitkaTom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. On-site host Stuart Scott, analysts Trent Dilfer and Steve Young, contributor Rick Reilly and Salters will join the Countdown crew from Cowboys Stadium.

The two-hour Monday Night Countdown will include the following segments:

  • ‘Gruden Extra’ with DeMarcus Ware:  The Cowboys All-Pro defensive end sits down for a one-on-one interview with MNF’s Gruden.
  • Soundtracks – Brandon Marshall:  The Chicago Bears wide receiver is wired for in-game audio during last week’s victory over the Rams.
  • Rick Reilly Feature – The Cowboys Cheerleaders: In his weekly feature, columnist and Monday Night Countdown essayist Rick Reilly presents the story of the Cowboys cheerleaders, one of the most famous cheerleading squads in the world.

Sunday NFL Countdown: Larry Fitzgerald – The Conductor; J.J. Watt Swats; Panthers Greg and Kara Olsens’ Journey; and More

Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, joined by Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski (on an adjoining set) will preview week four on Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM on September 30 at 10 a.m.  ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will report the day’s news and updates.

Correspondents Ed Werder (Carolina at Atlanta), Josina Anderson (New England at Buffalo), Colleen Dominguez (San Francisco at New York Jets), Rachel Nichols (New Orleans at Green Bay), and Sal Paolantonio (New York Giants at Philadelphia) will report from five games.  Highlights:

  • Larry Fitzgerald – The Conductor:  Before leading the undefeated Arizona Cardinals to a 27-6 home victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last week, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald conducted the Phoenix Symphony’s opening night performance of the national anthem.  As Greg Garber reports, conducting the orchestra is a fitting metaphor to Fitzgerald’s career and the Cardinals’ season so far.
  • Watt’s swats:  With 5.5 sacks this season, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is becoming one of the best defensive players in the game.  More than the sacks, it is Watt’s ability and passion for knocking down passes that has made the experience of facing the second-year player miserable for opposing offenses in the league, reports Countdown’s Tom Jackson.
  • Osi vs. McCoy:  Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy led the NFL in touchdowns in 2011. New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, once a NFC sacks leader, has two Super Bowl rings.  Neither seems to like each other that much.  MNF sideline reporter Lisa Salters, in an E:60 exclusive, explores the Twitter feud between the two players.
  • The Olsens:  Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and his wife, Kara, are preparing for a tough journey as one of their twins Kara is carrying has been diagnosed with a rare and deadly heart defect in-utero.  Reporter Chris Connelly sits down with the couple to find out how they’ve been trying to prepare, and to discuss the short- and long-term prognosis for their unborn son.

The three-hour program will also include recurring segments such as Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge’s ‘Eye in the Sky’ – an Xs and Os look at key plays and formations; Cris Carter’s ‘Where You At?’, pointing out underperforming players; and coach Mike Ditka’s ‘Stop It’, an admonition from the legendary coach to select teams, execs, players, coaches, et al, to cease from unflattering decisions and actions.

Snickers NFL Matchup – Cam Newton vs. the Blitz; Julius Peppers vs. Cowboys Offensive Line; 49ers Bruce Miller’s Wheel route; and More

NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the weekend’s key matchups by taking viewers inside the film room with X’s and O’s analysis Sunday, Sept. 30, on ESPN at 3:30 a.m. (ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m.).  Highlights:

  • Hoge’s Breakdown – Cam Newton vs. the Blitz: Hoge shows a New York Giants blitz package last week that used timing to disrupt Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s passing, and contends the Panthers must protect Newton from such plays to be successful as a passing team.
  • ‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know’ – Cardinals Blitz Scheme:  In a new segment titled ‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,’ Jaworski explains the complex blitz schemes that make the Cardinals a dominant defensive team.
  • Jaws’ Playbook – Bruce Miller’s Wheel Route: Jaworski goes inside San Francisco’s playbook to show how their downfield passing is predicated upon their ability to execute staple plays, such as the wheel route with fullback Bruce Miller.
  • Coaches Clicker: Giants Run Game:  As injury sidelined Ahmad Bradshaw, running back Andre Brown emerged as an effective alternative last Thursday as the New York Giants beat Carolina Panthers.  Hoge pulls the ‘Coaches Clicker’ to show the nuances of New York’s blocking scheme that opened holes for Brown’s 100-yard rushing performance.
  • Eagles Play-action Boot:  Jaworski reveals how pass-protection is key to the Eagles’ tendency of opening games on the offense with a play-action boot. 
  • ‘Game Within the Game’ – Julius Peppers vs. Cowboys Offensive Line:  After studying film which identified how porous the Cowboys offensive line was last Sunday vs. the Buccaneers, Hoge will show how Chicago Bears creative use of defensive end Julius Peppers would be the interesting ‘Game Within the Game’ on MNF.
  • ‘Between the Lines’ – Andre Johnson:  In this week’s ‘In Between the Lines,’ Jaworski uses the telestrator to dissect the impact of Houston’s use of run-action play with wide receiver Andre Johnson on their downfield passing game.

ESPN NFL Analyst and Former Pro Bowl Safety Brian Dawkins to Have Jersey Retired on Sunday

ESPN NFL analyst and nine-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins will have his No. 20 jersey retired on Sunday, Sept. 30, by the Philadelphia Eagles. Selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft, Dawkins played for the team for 13 seasons. Prior to being honored at Lincoln Financial Field, Dawkins will stop at the Dover International Speedway where he’s invited to be the AAA 400 Grand Marshal at the Sprint Cup Series race. The third race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will air on ESPN at 1 p.m.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties, including soccer, NFL and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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