Breaking News:

Keep up with So Much Sports on Twitter @SoMuchSports

Quick Inside Slant: Week 5

Impressions of the 2012 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.


By: Dustin Fisher

I guess being called a team still searching for an identity is better than saying the Chiefs are a terrible team that can’t really do anything on offense and can’t stop anybody on defense because their collection of players and coaches are inferior to the rest of the league.

“Hooray! The refs are back! Now we’ll never have any bad calls again.”
– Probably what Packers coach Mike McCarthy was thinking at the beginning of his game against the New Orleans Saints.

We are now one quarter of the way through the NFL season. Well, except for the Colts and the Steelers. Slackers. Some teams are underperforming, some are overperforming and some are just performing, but records are starting to tell how good or bad teams are. Yes, that includes you, New Orleans. No, not you, Arizona. That’s a fluke.

I blasted sportscasters in my column last week and for good reason. I think most of them take the task of dumbing down their broadcast for the casual fan a little too literally. They’ve invented their own language, disregarding the common definitions of English words that non-sports folk have come to understand the true meanings of. This has caused a misunderstanding among the casual fan who does not regularly torture him or herself with daily doses of Trey Wingo’s bastardization of the English language.

There are rules that need to alter the meaning of words slightly, such as “possession,” “control,” and “catch” like we learned last week. I get that. But there’s a slightly more ignorant and sometimes intentionally deceitful intent behind some of these redefinitions. To help the uninitiated, I’ve transcribed many common phrases here for you to be able to keep up:

What Sportscasters say: What they really mean

He’s holding out: He’s skipping training camp this year for self-serving reasons
Retired: Taking a year off
Gunslinger: Careless, lucky quarterback
Must-win game: Game
He has deceptive speed: He is fast, yet white
This team controls their own destiny: If their team wins out, they make it to the playoffs (though they don’t necessarily have free will and I’m not referencing a deity)
This team needs to find their identity: I have no idea what I’m talking about and probably shouldn’t have this job
Literally: Figuratively

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will get the casual fan through most of an episode of NFL Live.

No ID Required

There’s a phrase kicked around by the talking heads about teams needing to find “their identity.” As if the Pittsburgh Steelers were a lost soul wandering the earth trying to figure out what it all meant. The general concept behind it is that Mark Schlereth and his merry band of analysts feel that teams should be able to fit neatly into boxes. Like “They’re a power running team that plays a bend but don’t break defense” or “They’re a zone blitzing team that plays mahjong on the sidelines.” I’m sure there are a lot of teams that have an identity, but happen to suck at it. Nobody wants to be known as “They’re a turnover machine with a defense that shies away from contact” even if it is an identity.

Since when does it matter if a team fits into a box? In New England’s undefeated season, there were games on two consecutive weeks where they ran the ball on 65% of their snaps and then threw the ball on 65% of their snaps.* Is having an identity more important than assessing your team’s strengths and weaknesses and comparing them to your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and game planning around that data? Or do I not understand the intricacies of coaching? Or would it just make it easier to talk about them on TV?

You’ll also notice that only losing teams need to find their identity. Winning teams apparently don’t need an identity. I believe it was most recently said about Kansas City. They “haven’t found their identity.” Is that why they’re losing? They don’t know who they are? Or are you just sugar coating the fact that they suck? More likely, it’s that you want to sound smart to the casual fan (a phrase I believed I’ve now overused) so you’re making stuff up. Like 95% of the judges who talk about a comedian’s “timing.” Some teams aren’t good because they have inferior players and coaches. A walkabout through Nepal isn’t going to help them stop turning the ball over.

Bad Luck Team of the Week: The Jets had no chance in this game anyway. Apparently San Francisco gets pissed after they lose. But not only did Santonio Holmes just throw the ball willingly to the defense, he got an injury named after a girl and is out for the rest of the season. All that plus they still have Mark Sanchez as their quarterback and Rex Ryan as their coach.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: I could easily give it to San Fran’s defense for their massive airstrike on the Jets, but there’s a white guy who managed to rack up 256 yards receiving for Miami. It would take Russell Wilson three games to throw for that many yards. It must be all that deceptive speed.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: I’m sure no one except the Harrell family even has Graham on their bench, but Aaron Rodgers got poked in the eye and had to come out for a play. One play. You’d think a backup quarterback in this league could hand the ball to a running back on a dive play. In fact, I think even a backup equipment manager could figure out the mechanics involved in turning around and giving the ball to another person. But this ballerina tripped over his own feet and spilled the ball on his first and only big league play. Good thing for him and the refs and the greater Green Bay area that Hartley missed that 48-yarder. I hope this guy never has to take a knee against Tampa Bay.

Actual Dud of the Week: Tony Romo managed 300 yard passing and 12 fantasy points, despite throwing the ball to the Bears on half the team’s drives. And I know Dez Bryant is half the problem. But if a girl cheats on you and yet you take her back, whose fault is it if she cheats on you again? Well, hers. But it still goes down on your stat sheet as having gotten cheated on. I feel this analogy may have a hole or two in it.

Fourth Chance Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera won baseball’s triple crown last night with a batting average of .330. That means he gets a hit once every three times at bat. That is very good for a baseball player. Not so good for an NFL kicker. Billy Cundiff hit one out of four field goals on Sunday and somehow walked off the field a hero. Good for him. And good for the Redskins, considering they are now getting their own guys concussions in pregame warmups. I guess they’re getting bored losing the normal way. But Mike Leake hits better than .250 and he’s a pitcher. I’m just sayin.

Other Notes From Week Four:
• Monday Night was the first day of October, in which the NFL spreads pink awareness to football fans.
• Jake Locker’s injury, though horrible for his career, actually puts Tennessee back into the playoff hunt.
• Good thing for the refs and Graham Harrell and the greater Green Bay community that Hartley missed that 48-yarder. I wonder what all those people wearing their “Worst Call Ever” shirts would have done.

Prediction for Week Five: A ref will miss a call and a sportscaster will joke about how they want the replacement refs back. His co-anchor will muster a pity laugh.

* – I completely made up that statistic. But it doesn’t make it any less true (Ed note: Yes it does).

The following two tabs change content below.
Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

Latest posts by Dustin Fisher (see all)

Comments are closed.