In the Monday Night Football broadcast booth, color analyst Jon Gruden muttered disgustedly.
"After we show them the formation," Gruden said. "Unbelievable."
Gruden's colloquial "we" seemed nothing more than a harmless slip of the tongue, but it came on a night when viewers were busy reading the tea leaves of everything said by the former, and perhaps once again, NFL head coach.
Fans have connected his name to every likely-to-be-open head coaching job in the NFL. Nowhere has the speculation been more intense than Philadelphia, where he coached the Eagles offense between 1995 and 1997.
Gruden didn't address his future on the broadcast, and struck an admiring tone when it came to Andy Reid, his friend and former colleague in Green Bay. But for those inclined to Gruden-watch, or who were otherwise bored by a primetime clash of two of the NFL's worst teams, he provided plenty of fodder with his fawning style.
Some those verbal bouquets he's known to deliver, however, missed the mark.
Early in the first quarter, Gruden declared that "the Eagles' strength on defense is rushing the passer."
A fine point, except the Eagles came into the game 30th in the NFL with 16 sacks. In the fourth quarter, the defensive line jumped offsides three straight times leading to a Carolina touchdown.
After Carolina torched the Eagles' secondary for two easy touchdowns in the first half, Gruden lauded cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for his cover skills. He then incorrectly referred to his nickname as "DCR."
His most-over-the top moment followed Bryce Brown's 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Gruden declared, "I love pro football. Every year you discover a new star," and compared the rookie to Houston's Pro Bowler Arian Foster. Brown fumbled twice later.
Not that Gruden didn't show exasperation with the team some would like to see him take over.
After Cam Newton's first touchdown pass to an uncovered target, his disdain was clear.
"Same old story for Philadelphia Eagles defense," he said.
When history repeated itself a few moments later, Gruden exclaimed, "I've never seen more wide-open receivers!"
He was more circumspect when it came to Reid. Gruden repeatedly praised Reid's game plan and told a charming story about him being Mike Holmgren's "teacher's pet" in Green Bay.
Play-by-play man Mike Tirico pressed him to weigh in on how history will view Reid.
"Dick Vermeil, Andy Reid, they'll have legacies that last forever. You hate to hear Andy booed and some of the negativity," Gruden said. "He'll find a way to get through."
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