If you believe that the setup of “Monday Night Football” still might not change for next season, you either have not watched or you think ESPN executives are incompetent.
In its rookie year, the Monday night crew of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger (Mobile) McFarland has improved from Game 1.
But that’s not exactly a high bar.
So, could “Tess” and “Witt” return in the booth, with “Boog” motorizing on the sideline? Yes, that’s possible, as they are under contract, but ESPN declined comment when asked if that is set.
We’ll go on the record and say it seems highly unlikely there won’t be some changes, even if everyone currently involved talks about “a long-term plan” as if ESPN were tanking for a higher draft pick and not producing what it wants to be the top NFL primetime showcase of the week.
Before you pencil in this entire group for next September, keep in mind that the Monday night crew will soon be doing a game without the Booger Mobile.
The Post has learned that ESPN International’s broadcast of the Super Bowl will have Tessitore, Witten and McFarland in a traditional booth. It could provide an easy out for 2019 and permanently park the “Booger Mobile” next to Fox’s glowing puck in the “Good job, Good effort” TV sports parking lot.
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ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” executive producer, Jay Rothman, has repeatedly said McFarland could be the “Charles Barkley of football.” If that is the case, why does ESPN diminish his presence on Monday night by putting him in a high chair on the sideline?
On Super Sunday, ESPN will be able to hear how the trio sounds with a normal format. If that doesn’t work, it seems possible ESPN might sell the notion that McFarland is best in studio, and he could be part of a revised “Sunday NFL Countdown.”
ESPN claims that McFarland’s mobile allows him to see aspects of the game that you can’t witness from the booth, like line play and what is going on with the bench. So what the heck is sideline reporter Lisa Salters’ job?
There was a question if Salters would return before this year. While she did, you can barely tell when you watch the games. By contrast, on “Sunday Night Baseball,” Buster Olney — in a similar role — is nearly a fourth analyst.
Witten, meanwhile, should welcome McFarland into the booth if he is, as Rothman describes him, “Captain America.”
Standing next to each other, Witten and McFarland might sound as if they are conversing, instead of incessantly stacking comments on top of one another.
Witten has improved — again, the bar wasn’t high — and can be informative, especially when he talks about receiver play.
Though ESPN wants every critic to swear on scout’s honor not to compare Witten to CBS’ Tony Romo — his buddy and former Cowboys teammate — we are going to break the made-up rule.
Romo is a natural on TV, while Witten sounds as if he is unsure with each step. It would go unnoticed if he were doing the No. 3 game on CBS or Fox, but Monday night is the big lights, and he has a big contract (four years, according to sources, for somewhere between $18 million and $22 million). He is paid like a TV star, and ESPN must evaluate its initial valuation.
Meanwhile, Tessitore began the year as if he were a salesman for “Monday Night Football.” It was too much. On Monday nights, we are all welcoming the crew into our living room.
To start the season, Tessitore — who was doing his initial NFL games — was like the guy who comes over for the first time and is going a million miles a minute. He needed to dial it down a bit.
To his credit, Tessitore has audibled some as the season has gone on, toning it down as Witten and McFarland find more of a comfort level. Tessitore can do the job if he relaxes a bit. If he does that, his high notes could really be heard.
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Like Tessitore, everyone working on the show at ESPN is earnest in making Monday night a success. That’s to be commended. But some free advice: Chill a bit and let the broadcast breathe more.
After the Super Bowl, it won’t be for Tessitore, Witten, McFarland or Salters to decide if this “MNF” crew is in it for the long term. That is going to be up to ESPN executives, ultimately landing on president Jimmy Pitaro’s desk.
And oh, by the way, the network is reorganizing its top content executives, according to sources. When the game of musical chairs happens in Bristol, the tune nearly always changes a little.
Quick Click: NBA TV’s “Beyond the Paint” has a good piece on a professional gamer who survived the Jacksonville shooting in August. Timothy Anselimo lost friends on that day and was shot through his chest, hip and on his right (playing) hand. He survived and is now trying to return to playing for NBA 2K’s Cleveland team.