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Quick Inside Slant: Week 14

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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Tom Brady is great but thanks to ESPN’s new total quarterback rating scaled on 0-100 we can see how much better he is than everybody in a whole new way.

There aren’t many reasons to watch Eagles games anymore. But 41 cutaways of Tony Romo’s wife had me tuned in until the end. Kudos to NBC’s marketing department.

I’m not really sure how they pick teams for primetime games, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the “quarterback with a hot wife” method. They even cut away to Mrs. Romo during one Cowboys’ defensive series. That’s some dedication to marketing efforts on the part of NBC. I don’t plan on watching the Eagles’ game against the Bucs, scheduled for this Sunday at 1pm along with nine other games. But I most certainly will tune in next Thursday night when they take on Jordan Dalton’s husband.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Rex Ryan surprised nobody by finally benching Marc Sanchez. Then he surprised nobody and everybody by not benching him this week. It’s like he’s actually trying to win football games, which Andy Reid has decided is no longer important this year.

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh apparently has no idea what a backup quarterback is. In a press conference, he has said he is going with Colin. And Alex. He’s going with both. Right. He reminds me of a monkey. He’s afraid to let go of one branch until he secures another. But when you’re holding onto two branches, you lose all your momentum. At least I did when I tried it with two girls I was seeing in my twenties. In fact, that whole tree came crashing down on my jeep if I remember things correctly. But that’s a story for another day.

In his week 11 win over the Eagles (of course), RGIII had a perfect passer rating of 158.3. To the uninitiated, yes – 158.3 is a perfect passer rating. Yes, it sounds like the first time somebody tried to tell you that a shot of Whiskey and Baileys dropped into a half pint of Guiness would taste like a milkshake, especially when you consider that he threw one incompletion and could have thrown two more and still had a “perfect” passer rating. But I’ll be damned if that darn drink doesn’t transform into a delectable, yet explosive dessert treat and no, I’m not kidding about that perfect 158.3.

Total QBR or Total QBS?

For many reasons, or at least two that I can clearly think of, ESPN decided they wanted to improve the old “passer rating” system as the staple of grading a quarterback’s performance. For one, the rating system needed to be on a scale people could understand, a.k.a. 0 to 100. That makes sense to us people who don’t feel like multiplying things by 0.6317119393556538. Secondly, it wanted to account for other things quarterbacks did, such as running, decision-making and having a hot wife (beta). So they sent Trent Dilfer and Tim Hasselbeck away for a summer with some unpaid interns to come up with something. And that’s what they claim they did.

There is a weird uncle in town called the “Total Quarterback Rating” that you’ve likely heard about throughout the last two seasons if you watch any show related to football on ESPN. And much like your actual weird uncle, nobody can say exactly what it does. Everybody kinda knows and can regurgitate vague particulars like “it takes into account down and distance” or “he does something with cars,” but nobody really tells us the full story because they think we’re stupid. And because it’s a broken and subjective system they don’t want exposed. But hey, it’s family. So it can come in and sleep on the couch. For a couple weeks. A month, max. But it doesn’t get its own key.

The “Total QBR” is in its second season now and I was really hoping they would be able to tell us what exactly it is. I keep hearing the same regurgitated company lines over and over again, like “we look at the entire quarterback performance” and “no exchanges, no refunds,” but I get nothing of substance. No equation. Trent and Matt just come out on NFL Live on Monday and expect us to chug down every little white pill they put in front of us like we were grunt buddies in Nam. It sounds more like Mitt Romney’s plan for cutting taxes and lowering the national debt. “I don’t have time to explain it. Just trust me.”

So when RGIII had his “perfect” day against the Eagles, his Total QBR was 4th overall that day, behind Colin Kapernick, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. I’m a little surprised that Brett Favre wasn’t also in the top four (Trent has a serious man crush, trust me). As long as there are human beings judging these plays and if nobody is willing to tell us that’s what is really happening, I’m going to assume that people like Trent Dilfer and Matt Hasselbeck, who seem to have a special place in their hearts for Brett Favre and other elite quarterbacks who let those two hang out with them at parties so they can feel like part of the gang, are giving the guys they want benefits of doubts and better grades accordingly. How else would Tim Tebow’s four of ten for 79 yards and a touchdown in a loss get a higher grade than Aaron Rodgers’ 26 of 39 for two touchdowns in a win (Week 5, 2011)? Yeah, I’m gonna hold off on changing all my Passer Rating bumper stickers over until somebody gives me some answers. Ones that preferably have numbers attached to them and don’t include the word “clutch” as if they’re the only people who know what that word means. Maybe they’re not being all subjective, but something about this new system is leaking oil fast, which is why other networks and newspapers are pretending it doesn’t exist in hopes that it will just go away. Like I do with Trent Dilfer.

Though it is nice to have that clean 0 to 100 thing.

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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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