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Quick Inside Slant: Week 8

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.

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Why does Dustin Fisher pick on Greg Schiano so much? Nobody knows the real reason but he refers to him as his Lex Luther…so it sounds like some bad blood there.

The Bears beat the Lions by six points on Monday Night, though they were outgained in total yards, yards per pass play and yards per rush. The most amazing statistic about the game, however, is that there were still 48 players on the Lions’ roster who didn’t turn the ball over.

The way ESPN talked about the game, you’d have thought the Bears beat the Lions by 35, not by the nose of a football because some fourth-string running back thought he could fly. After forcing four turnovers, the Bears should be worried that they only won by six points, not celebrating their dominance. But there’s just no reasoning with Trey Wingo.

The Coach That Knew Too Little

This weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coach did not Pearl Harbor the offensive line of New Orleans on a last play kneel-down when they knew they were going to lose. This time, they booed the New Orleans field goal unit as they were about to go ahead by ten. And not the same boo that Jets fans give Mark Sanchez when he comes back into the game for Tim Tebow, but the kind of boo high school kids use to scare each other from behind a cracked door. The frightened Saint indeed jumped offsides. Not only is it the most childish of tactics, but also unsportsmanlike conduct to yell “BOO” at the opposing team when they are trying to snap the ball. It is also illegal to give defenders wedgies, light a bag of poop and leave it on their steps or urinate on their car door handles.

So the Bucs turned a New Orleans field goal attempt into a first and ten from the Buc’s 18-yard line with over 14 minutes left in the game. The last play of the game was a Buc’s touchdown nullified by a penalty from the 9-yard line. It could have instead been a field goal to send it to overtime if they were only down by three. So Jerkface’s (see how that name really seems to fit him now) game plan of yelling “boo” at the field goal unit likely cost his team a chance at overtime. Also, they’d have had another minute to play with had everything else gone the same. Why the heck isn’t anybody else talking about this? Trey? You want a real story to talk about? Or are you afraid he’s going to stinkbomb your house?

After the play and again after the Saints scored the touchdown on that drive, Jerkface could be seen given the officials the business, apparently blaming them for his own lack of knowledge of the rules. I know there are a lot of rules in that big NFL rulebook, as is evident with the lack of ink given to the Immaculate Deception or whatever they’re calling that Golden Tate play. But there are at least 32 people in the league who should really be knowledgeable about all of them. And Jerkface is one of them.

Coaches aren’t held accountable enough in this league for their lack of knowledge of those rules. Jerkface inadvertently cost his team the game (or at least a chance at overtime) because of his ignorance. And this time, I mean the other definition of ignorance. The victory formation play is dirty and unsportsmanlike, but not illegal. This is different. This loss can be directly tied to his value as a coach*. But there are times in which coaches need to be held accountable within the rules for violations of the rules.

In the NFL, if a coach calls a time out but doesn’t have one, the ref’s job is to ignore him or try to explain to him – while doing his main job of making the game fair and safe – that he doesn’t have any left. In the NBA, play stops and the other team gets to shoot free throws. Why not have an unsportsmanlike rule like that? Make it easier on the officials.

My biggest issue is with the red flags. Coaches throw them all the time at plays that aren’t reviewable. Shouldn’t they know what plays are reviewable and what aren’t? You expect me to believe that Brian Billick can storm onto the field and tell the ref that the quarterback is ineligible to catch a pass because he received it while in shotgun formation, but he doesn’t know that you can’t challenge a fumble if the play was over already? Granted rules like that change from year to year, but not enough so that coaches can’t keep up or better yet, hire somebody with the specific job to know if plays are challengeable. While you’re at it, hire a guy who’s only job is to know how when a team should use their time outs. I’ll do both for very cheap and I happen to be available on Sundays.

While I’m changing rules, here are some other rules that I think need changing:

Delay of game for improper red flag: See above

Loss of down for offensive pass interference: This is the rule in college and high school. The lack of it lets the wide receiver bail out a potentially intercepted ball way too easily.

Bar on top of the goal post: This is just to make things easier on the refs. You don’t have to guess whether or not it would have hit the post of the kick were higher. It just has to go through. It would also make 35-yarders more exciting. I’m not holding my breath.

No red flags after the whistle: In the Saints’ almost undefeated season, they played a game against the Redskins. In overtime, a Saints player dove on a ball after the whistle, knocking into a Redskins player. It was reviewed and the ball was given to the Saints because of a “clear recovery” after the whistle. Earlier IN THE SAME GAME, a Redskins player did the exact same thing, but because the runner’s knee was down first, he wasn’t given the ball. In fact, he was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This posthumous recovery rule is teaching players to play beyond the whistle, but it still penalizes them for doing it. What the heck are you supposed to do?

Offensive holding should only be 7 yards: Ten yards just feels like too much. I’m not holding my breath on this one either.

Offensive face mask for doing the same thing that defensive players can’t: According to the rules, a ball-carrier can shove his hand into a defensive player’s face mask provided he doesn’t close his fingers around it. This luxury is not granted to defenders trying to tackle that player. I remember seeing Emmitt Smith in a game against the Vikings getting his hand underneath a defender’s face mask and pushing it up, without closing his fingers, until he couldn’t push it any more. The poor defender ran with him for about 40 yards with his head being shoved back in a very unhealthy manner, his arms now unable to reach Smith. So are we making the game safer? Or more offense-friendly?

Other Notes From Week Seven:

Washington stole another loss from the jaws of victory this week, proving that not even RG3 can buck that tradition.

New England actually lost to the Jets this week, but somehow won because they’re New England.

Cam Newton whined so much, he got his GM fired, one-upping Dwight Howard. I’d be a little scared if I was the editor in chief of the Daily Planet.

* – All this is assuming he told his players to say “BOO.” But even if he didn’t ask his players to do it, the fact that he spent so long arguing afterward certainly suggests he doesn’t know the rule. At least enough for me to convict him in the court of this man’s opinion.

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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.

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