Rex Ryan broadcasting Monday Night Football was bound to be viewed as a breakout success or critical failure. There probably wasn’t going to be any room in-between among viewers. Either the outspoken former NFL coach was going to be a refreshing surprise on TV, sharing some candid opinions and memorable observations, or a disappointment by showing little personality and his inexperience in the broadcast booth.

As you might have guessed, it turned out to be the latter during the second game of ESPN’s MNF doubleheader. The late game has been a punching bag for fans and critics going back several years, with Chris Berman doing play-by-play or experiments such as Mike and Mike calling the game. That scrutiny was sure to continue with Beth Mowins calling play-by-play alongside Ryan as an analyst.

However, Mowins is a proven broadcaster, regularly calling college football for ESPN, so the question mark was going to be Ryan. Offering quick takes and sound bite analysis in the studio is quite a different circumstances than a game broadcast during which a commentator has to talk more often and respond quickly to what’s happening on the field.

Judging by the consensus Monday night, viewers didn’t think so much of Ryan in the booth. He was subdued, occasionally trying to force some bits of levity and personality into his commentary (“the hated New England Patriots–I mean, the New England Patriots”), but often seemed hesitant to say something or a bit behind the action on screen, especially during replays.

Most importantly, Ryan offered little perspective as a coach, failing to explain what the Broncos or Chargers defenses might do in given situations. And considering he worked with new Chargers coach Anthony Lynn for eight years, Ryan provided very little insight as to his former assistant’s approach or philosophy. (Maybe he didn’t want to seem too one-sided in his analysis. Or maybe that was even a direction he was given.)

What did the people have to say about Ryan on Twitter? Here’s a sampling of Monday night’s response:

Media critics didn’t view Ryan’s performance very kindly either.

The New York Post‘s Mark W. Sanchez (not to be confused with Ryan’s former quarterback with the New York Jets):

“Ryan did not seem confident in his speech and looked like the rookie analyst he is: At the start of the broadcast, his partner, Beth Mowins, had to remind him not to interfere with his microphone. Mowins, who became just the second woman to call an NFL game, dragged him through a night that seemed more like a preseason dress rehearsal than a Week 1 showtime (though Dipp helped that feeling). Ryan lacked the energy needed for a Monday night game, coming across more as sleepy than engaged.”

Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina:

“Rex Ryan, who will be in ESPN’s studio for the rest of the season, was totally out of his league calling a game. He often stuttered, constantly said ‘um,’ and basically told you exactly what just happened on a play and offered no insight or original analysis. He also had no energy and sounded like it was a chore for him to call the game.”

Ryan’s debut was almost certain to be viewed unfavorably, with the audience ready to pounce on any mistake or mishap. But after Tony Romo raised the bar for rookie NFL TV analysts in his first broadcast for CBS, it’s possible that people were even harder on Ryan.

Maybe the former coach is best suited as a floating head above the Sunday NFL Countdown crew during ESPN’s pregame show.

Make your jokes about getting a snack and let’s move on. Hopefully, Ryan gets better at this each week, though we won’t be seeing him in the booth again for quite a while, if ever. And how about giving Mowins a better analyst partner for her next NFL broadcast? Things can only go up for Jay Feely.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports,, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.

  • MetaphysicalMan

    In terms of a media role, Rex Ryan strikes me as more of a studio guy. In the booth, he definitely sounded like a rookie.

    • DrewShervin

      Actually I just posted that Rex in the studio was unimpressive. Will see next week when he is actually in the studio and not on a remote.

  • Ted Striker

    The whole crew stunk.

  • scott

    Mowan and Rex were awful! ESPN has NO clue when it comes to announcing. Who ever makes those decisions should be fired. All over the network it is painfully bad. Fowler is awful doing play by play, great host awful play by play. Mike Trico was really bad for years, huge mistake by ESPN, what were they thinking? Now this…Get it together can only listen to so much sub par play by play, it’s painful…Where is Keith Jackson??

    • gman76

      Had to mute, can’t stand mowins voice.

  • John Vicari

    Mowins was good as excepted. Rex was mediocre. But Sergio Dipp was the person who made it entertaining lol… Will they ever do this doubleheader right. If i were in charge My booth for next season’s game would be Mowins, Tim Hasselback or a cfb analyst with Adam Schefter or each teams Espn NFL Writer. Just shouldn’t be a side show anymore

    • coloradodavid

      You thought Mowins was good?


      You have low standards.

      • Mike

        Or at a minimum, tone deaf ears.

      • John Vicari

        She’s not the best at pxp at ESPN but she was deserving of this shot. Lot better than Chris Berman.

  • DrewShervin

    I didn’t watch the game but Rex Ryan on Sunday Countdown was a complete clusterfcuk. Being on a remote had something to do with it but it wasn’t same freewheeling Rex from his press conferences. He was very reserved and really didn’t add anything. Sam Ponder also seemed out of her element. This is going to be a one year experiment at best. Bruce Arians might retire after this season so he could be a possibility. Sunday Countdown needs Boomer but that ship has sailed.

  • coloradodavid

    Aside from Gruden, everyone for both games last night was unwatchable, and had to be muted. The crew for the Denver game was especially horrid. Constantly stuttering, making ridiculous observations, whiney voices.

    They made Madden look like a hall of fame broadcaster. They made Joe Buck and Aickman look like music to people’s ears.


  • Mike

    10 minutes into the Denver – San Diego game listening to Beth Mowins was more then these ears could take!

  • Fast Freddy

    I didn’t even notice how bad Rex Ryan was because Beth Mowins’ grating voice made me turn the sound way down. I missed that dopey sideline kid too. It seems as though ESPN is TRYING to drive people away.

  • Paul Rain

    At least he knows something about the game, unlike the hole.

  • Pingback: Rex Ryan feels more "in my element" with ESPN in studio than broadcast booth()

  • Pingback: What's causing the downturn in NFL pregame show viewership?()