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Quick Inside Slant: Week 1

Impressions of the 2015 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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By: Dustin Fisher

It appears that Eli’s decision-making skills are already in mid-season form. But he’s not the only one with Week One jitters.

The Player

Eli Manning making bad decisions, seems like the NFL is back in full swing.

Eli Manning making bad decisions, seems like the NFL is back in full swing.

Some nights I wake up in a cold sweat shouting out loud to no one in particular “No! NOOO! There’s no way he really has two Superbowl MVPs!” Unfortunately, Eli has a tendency to play very well for four games every four years, and he could end his career with 72 straight losses, throwing ball after ball out of the end zone and telling his own players to not score an easy touchdown, and he’d still have those two damn Super Bowl rings. And there isn’t enough lemon in the world to get that taste out of my mouth.

Eli is prone to panic. Which is understandable. Often times when he gets sacked, I worry he may actually turn into a body pillow. So it didn’t surprise me at all that even if he was told before the play “If it’s not open, just take the sack,” that in the heat of the moment – with really big people running very fast at him – he’d just chuck the ball far away and thank the lord he could walk back to the sidelines still a human. But it turns out that on first and second down, acting completely on his own volition, he told Rashad Jennings – who happens to be on my fantasy team – to intentionally NOT score. Because who the hell wants a 10-point lead that late in the game? That isn’t panic. That is stupid. And it makes that 3rd down heave out of the end zone more laughable, just not more surprising. Maybe you miscounted something. Or maybe you thought it was the Super Bowl again and YOU, not the coaching staff, were going to be lauded for your savvy football brilliance. Oh, Eli. You’ve managed to out-think your coverage on this one. Hopefully you don’t miss the playoffs by one game, or you probably just got your coach fired.

The Coach

The Eagles once again opted to start the season with a 17-point deficit. And once again, they came back from that deficit. But late in the game, they found themselves down by two, facing a 3rd and one. Instead of last year’s rushing

Chip Kelly brought in DeMarco Murray on a huge deal...and gave the ball to Ryan Mathews in a very important situation. Brilliant.

Chip Kelly brought in DeMarco Murray on a huge deal…and gave the ball to Ryan Mathews in a very important situation. Brilliant.

champ DeMarco Murray in the backfield, Ryan Matthews got the call. Questionable, but that’s part of the system that Chip Kelly won 10 games with last two years, so I’ll let it go. When Matthews didn’t gain the first down, the Eagles sent the field goal team on to attempt a 44-yarder. Which is a fine decision because who wouldn’t want a one-point lead that late in the game? Only it took them so long to figure out if they wanted to go for it or kick it, that Cody Parkey was rushed and pushed the kick wide right.

Kickers are like the Adrian Monks of the football world. They need time to get onto the field, visualize the kick, test the wind index, check the PSI level, pace off their 3×3 triangle, stare at the magic spot, visualize the kick, and then kick the ball. If everything isn’t divisible by ten, stuff starts to break down. And yet, the Eagles coaching staff waited until the last minute to send out the kicking team. Why weren’t you prepared with this decision by now? Did you not envision a scenario in which Ryan Matthews did NOT pick up the first down? I get that you fellas have a lot to do on game day, but you also have this magic sheet that tells you what to do in all these different scenarios so that you don’t have to think about it. If you’re going to think about it a la Eli Manning, why bother having that scenario sheet? And I will say again to every team willing to listen – I’m willing to be your clock management consultant and I’ll be happy to work for the league minimum. Why teams still don’t have these people is beyond me.

The Media

The Seahawks gave Marshawn Lynch the ball with one yard to go and the game on the line. Guess what, it has nothing to do with last year's Super Bowl.

The Seahawks gave Marshawn Lynch the ball with one yard to go and the game on the line. Guess what, it has nothing to do with last year’s Super Bowl.

Schadenfreude, all of you! Leave the damn Seahawks alone. Yes, they gave Lynch the ball with one yard to go and the game on the line, and that’s maybe a little ironic – certainly moreso than anything in Alanis Morissette’s song – but let’s please let the story die there. Now that they gave him the ball and he didn’t get it, it doesn’t justify the decision from the Super Bowl, because that interception happened on 2nd down (and personally, I don’t think it was that egregious a decision either). Also, now all I hear from the talking heads is that sure, you give him the ball, BUT NOT FROM THE SHOTGUN?!?! Like the concept is that foreign in the league today to run the ball from that formation, especially with a running threat at quarterback. In fact, in the abbreviated NFL Network replay of the game, I saw the Seahawks run Lynch from the shotgun formation twice on 3rd and one, and both times he got the first down. But because he didn’t make it on that one last play, the media has lost their dark matter.

I’m sure if Lynch got the ball from under center and didn’t make it, these same talking heads would find something to marvel over. Sure, give him the ball, BUT NOT TO THE SHORT SIDE OF THE FIELD?!?! Sure, run Lynch to the wide side of the field, BUT NOT WITHOUT A FULLBACK?!?! Sure, run Lynch from under center to the wide side of the field with a fullback and two blocking tight ends, BUT NOT ON FIRST SOUND?!?! Let it go, people. The Rams just happen to know how to beat the Seahawks, like the spy in Stratego. If you want to second-guess anything about that play, maybe you could tell the Seahawks’ offensive line not to let all the Rams into the backfield at once.

The Refs

Adam Jones slammed Amari Cooper's head on a helmet and only got flagged and fined. No need for an appeal here.

Adam Jones slammed Amari Cooper’s head on a helmet and only got flagged and fined. No need for an appeal here.

During an intramural basketball game I was officiating, there was a double dribble that was so blatant, I was too stunned to call it. The guy brought the ball up the court, clearly picked up his dribble, faked a shot, looked for a pass, and then took the ball to the basket for an uncontested layup because why would you need to defend that? Maybe that is why the refs didn’t kick Pacman Jones out of the game for removing Amari Cooper’s helmet and smashing his skull into it. It’s the football equivalent of what got Happy Gillmore kicked out of hockey. And that’s not just a fictitious movie, but one with Adam Sandler. The refs obviously saw it, as they threw a flag. But the question remains – what do you have to do to get kicked out of an NFL game these days? I’ll bet if Amari Cooper was a white quarterback, Pacman Jones would be gone for a couple weeks. #AnInconvenientTruth

The Shield

Everybody who has even seen Ndomukong Suh before this week knows his leg didn’t just accidentally graze Albert Morris’ head. But to his credit, he has gotten extremely good at doing things that everybody in the world knows are intentional, without anyone actually being able to definitively prove it. And because of that fact, along with the rubber chicken that is the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, the league has decided not to pursue any action against Suh for kicking another player’s helmet off. And honestly, I don’t blame them. If I were Roger Goodell, I would make a vine out of that kick to the head and email it to DeMaurice Smith with the subject heading “You guys are so f@$#ing smart, why don’t you start f@$#ing handling this shit!!” Yes, I would be a spiteful and petty commissioner.

Even the $350k fine that Pacman Jones is getting from the league for the aforementioned head-pounding assault is being appealed. Because why not? In fact, I say we just start with the appeal process from now on to save some time. Because as we have all seen, the shield may be mighty in that magical little D&D world you’ve created, but once you step outside, it’s just a cheap piece of cardboard. And now everybody knows that.

 

 

Let’s clean it up in Week Two, okay guys?

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Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at http://daddyneedsanap.com/ or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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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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