Fox’ Troy Aikman uses generous air time to share meaty points with viewers

  • Fox hosted the NFL’s Christmas Day matchup between the Vikings and Saints and used its #A team on the call, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
  • The NFL nimbly improvised the schedule a number of times during the fall when Covid incidents surfaced. Now the league is getting closer to the finish line, although at times it took an unconventional road. By the time the regular season ends next week, games will have been played every day of the week including Tuesday and Wednesday!
  • One of Troy Aikman’s strong suits is his hallmark to clearly and invariably reviews plays. Aikman cogently breaks down what fans just saw on the screen, demonstrating what and why and how a play was executed. We saw much of it during Christmas afternoon.
  • Almost immediately, Buck and Aikman focused on Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins who has been a subject of criticism for the lack of the team’s success. In defense of Cousins, the two voices turned their attention to the Vikes’ very weak defense. And as fate would have it, Cousins got off to a striking start, leading his team to a touchdown on their first possession.
  • Early in the game, Aikman pointed out how tackling, not only from this Vikings defense, but across the league is as poor as he has ever seen it. The Hall of Famer believes that this is due to the collective bargaining agreement which prohibits players from practicing in pads as much as they once did when he was quarterbacking the Cowboys.
  • During this entire game, the Vikings made Aikman look like a genius by refusing to tackle the Saints offensive playmakers. Alvin Kamara ran all over the Minnesota defense and broke so many tackles it was impossible to count all of them. Kamara ended with a career night, tying Ernie Nevers’ record with six rushing touchdowns in a game. It led Troy to emote early, “Wow, the Saints already have 200 yards in rushing.”
  • Buck chimed in about the the Vikings’ porous defense, saying that Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer is aware of his club’s deficiencies and both voices projected a turnaround on that front. Referencing the pre-game conversation that he and Aikman had with Zimmer, Buck said that Mike is one of the most transparent coaches in the league.
  • There are a lot of players Aikman is fond of, but the way he raved about Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson is something fans don’t hear too often. Early on, Troy talked about how much he loves the rookie receiver, heaping praise on the former LSU Tiger.
  • Aikman believes receivers around the league need to work on their route running (which isn’t surprising hearing a former quarterback putting the onus on receivers for incompletions instead of the QB). Jefferson might just be the exception to this in the eyes of Aikman. He loves the rookie’s route running and the way he moves at the top of routes to turn defenders around and create separation. Aikman even believes the young star has gotten better at this skill as the year has gone on.
  • Aikman pondered how Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen would defend the run-first Vikings offense propelled by Dalvin Cook. Because Minnesota has two great receivers in Adam Thielen and Jefferson, Aikman felt that it might be hard to play man coverage against them. He never explained what the Saints should do, and Aikman never went back later in the game to explain what Allen had come up with to defend the Vikings offense. Minnesota was held to 90 yards rushing.
  • Aikman did notice certain strategies in the game and was able to point them out to the audience. For instance, when opposing teams go with a three-receiver set the Vikings put their rookie corner Jeff Gladney in the slot and corner Chris Jones on the outside. Aikman pointed this out and said Saints’ coach Sean Payton will most likely exploit this matchup because Jones has been struggling all year. New Orleans went to this scheme many times during the game and continued to attack the struggling Jones in coverage.
  • Buck, as always, gave his teammate lots of air time and he himself acknowledged Minnesota’s challenges. Joe was full of pep today, more so perhaps than usual but I don’t remember him sharing very many personal anecdotes. Still solid.
  • Overall: The broadcast team gets an A Grade.
Brian Seitz

Brian Seitz is a student at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and hopes to pursue a career as a sportswriter.

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