ESPN makes right call in benching Ron Jaworski on “Monday Night Football”

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I really enjoyed watching Ron Jaworski when he played quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. I have always appreciated his in-depth film breakdown and expert commentary on various ESPN studio shows. But I couldn’t stand him on Monday Night Football, and I couldn’t be happier that he has been removed from the broadcast.

There’s no analyst in the industry who can break down film like “Jaws.” He has this rare ability to address the football expert and novice simultaneously without speaking up to one or talking down to the other. Unfortunately, Monday Night Football was not the platform that best suited his skills, and ESPN correctly decided that those skills would be better used elsewhere.

“I thank Ron for the great contributions he has made to Monday Night Football and look forward to the many ways he will enhance our studio presentation from our NFL-branded shows to SportsCenter,” ESPN President John Skipper said in the statement. “With two strong analysts in Ron and Jon [Gruden], these moves will better utilize their strengths and benefit our entire NFL presentation.”

Being in a three-man booth for live games with Mike Tirico and Gruden provided very little time for analysis, and I think this is where Jaws really struggled. He either blurted out stuff to get a word in edgewise, or he rambled on and oftentimes took away from the flow of the game.

Jaworski is at his best when he has time to formulate his thoughts and explain things in great detail, and ESPN will thankfully still use him in that capacity on shows like SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Matchup, NFL Live, NFL Kickoff and Mike & Mike in the Morning.

“I am grateful for having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of working on Monday Night Football the past five seasons with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and so many other talented people behind the scenes who make the show so great,” Jaworski said in a statement. “I look forward to bringing my passion and knowledge of the game to more fans in more places than ever before on any and all football topics.”

The giant elephant in the room now is whether ESPN removed the right analyst from the booth. Gruden has as many detractors as Jaworski, and neither gets glowing reviews in the media. In a recent Sports Illustrated poll, NFL players were asked to rank the worst TV commentators: Jaws placed #5, and Gruden was #6. Not very high praise for ESPN’s signature broadcast.

Regardless of where your loyalties lie, something had to be done to make the Monday Night Football telecast tolerable. I’m not a huge Gruden fan, but I do see him as the lesser of two evils. And because of that, ESPN made the right choice in benching Jaworski.