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Quick Inside Slant: Week 2

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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By: Dustin Fisher

Brandon Weeden met all expectations of being the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback when he threw four interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 1.

Art Modell, the man who moved the Browns to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens, died last week. Every stadium in the NFL decided to pay tribute with a moment of silence except Cleveland. They’ve decided to honor his memory by throwing four interceptions every game until Brandon Weeden gets hurt or fired.

Week One is in the history books, which means it’s time to overreact to how poorly or well our teams played and take a look back at our fantasy draft strategies and wonder how we let A.P. slip to the third round. All those idiots who picked the Saints, Packers and Giants may as well use those bet slips as toilet paper. The Skins are the obvious team to beat in the NFC. Until they lose to the Rams next week of course.

A Fool’s Logic

There an idiot’s reasoning that I see all too often in sport prognostication, which is like a stock this time of year. It’s the premise that the current champion is the team to beat until they don’t win the Superbowl. Eric Davis said exactly that on the NFL Network about the Giants, a 9-7 team that needed to win their final two games at the end of the year to stay barely ahead of the 8-8 Eagles and Cowboys. But until they get beat, they’re still the favorite in his head. I’d love to play poker with this man. If he happened to win with a 3-6 off suit last hand, well I guess that’s the hand to beat until it gets beat. So what I have pocket kings to start? Pocket kings didn’t win last hand. In this analogy, the Giants are the 3-6 off suit and the kings are any of the 8 better teams in the NFC. And poker is football, for the very analogy-challenged.

Also related and as flawed is the unwillingness to change those picks mid-season. Fast forward a couple months into the season and there will be some prognosticators who stick by their preseason picks because they refuse to admit defeat. I suppose there’s some degree of loyalty in play there, similar to the captain who sinks with the ship, despite the abundance of life rafts and rescue boats and the fact that they’re still at the pier. Herm, do you still have the Eagles winning the Superbowl? Sure do. You realize they’re 3 and 10. Don’t care. OK, Herm. You go ahead and ride that pair of 4s with five hearts on the board.

Bad Call of the Week: Everybody was just waiting for the replacement officials to screw something up. Admit it. We all wanted there to be a signature play that caused a game to be lost, even worse than Ed Hochuli did to Denver a few years back. Not because we want to see them fail, but because we want to believe that experience is important. How would you feel if you left your job of 20 years and somebody with three hours of training replaced you without a single person noticing? Well, that moment came in Arizona when the refs issued a fourth time out to Seattle in the closing minutes of the game. I’ve been there. I’ve done it and seen it done plenty. You have a guy in your face yelling “TIME OUT! TIME OUT! TIME OUT!” it’s your gut reaction to blow the whistle. At least in basketball, you blow the whistle and issue a technical foul. In football, you’re just supposed to ignore this screaming human being and often, because of the nature of a hectic play deserving of a time out, you don’t have time to explain why, leaving them to wonder if you heard them or are just an ass. I’ve called time outs in basketball when the other team had the ball and in soccer when a ball was in midair. Fortunately, this was collegiate intramurals and I can just make stuff up. My bad.Green ball.In the NFL, you actually have to grant them a fourth time out, which is another issue entirely. But this mishap didn’t cost Arizona the game, which is going to make it that much easier for the NFL to ignore.

Surprise Fantasy Stud of the Week: If I had to make a list of the teams I thought would score 48 points in Week One of the NFL, the Jets would not have been in the top 31. I honestly thought it was going to be Week Five before we saw them score 48 total points. More proof I shouldn’t even look at the preseason. Nicely done, Mark; you can keep your job another week.

Double Standard of the Week: I don’t really think it takes having played the sport to realize how fast the game is. It’s so easy to put violent helmet to helmet hits on a reel and convince people the hitter was in the wrong. Sunday night, Rahim Moore hit Emmanual Sanders in the head and received the accompanying unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When shown on a slow-motion replay, Cris Collinsworth simply said “No doubt about it,” placing full blame on Moore for the hit. But a closer look shows the hit took place with both players’ heads around waist level. How could Moore have predicted Sanders’ head would be that low when he went to hit him? Even soccer is smart enough to say “Hey, you lowered your head and got kicked in the face. Your fault.” I don’t know how it would be possible to change the call on the field with the speed of the game being as it is, but I wish somebody with some authority on the subject would have the guts and smarts to address this issue that the NFL seems to have put a gag order on for all media. I can’t be the first to have noticed this. Of course, the entire NFL has missed stuff before. Also, the head is on one end of your body. If you‘re not leading with it, you’re leading with your feet. And that’s going to look a hell of a lot worse in slowmotion.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: If your team would have been better off if you simply downed every snap, you win Fantasy Dud of the Week. It takes hard work for a quarterback to play an entire game and still have a negative fantasy value, but Brandon Weeden is just the guy for the job. He threw four picks and still only managed 118 passing yards. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson only had 39 yards rushing in 19 carries for an average of 2.053 (rounded up) yards per carry. Over/under on Colt McCoy starting is now Week Four.

Unsung Hero of the Week: There’s another double standard rule in the NFL that the offense is allowed to stiff arm a guy in the face mask as long as he doesn’t close his hand around it. I once saw Emmitt Smith shoving a guy’s head up in the air who was running with him desperately trying to grab him, yet unable because his throat was being ripped in half. Well, when Demaryius Thomas stiff armed Troy Palamumbalo Sunday night, Troy put Thomas in a UFC-looking arm bar and forced him to the ground. I’m pretty sure Thomas is OK, but a lesson was sent to all defensive personnel that there was a way to teach the offense how to cut it out with the stiff arms.

New Rule of the Week: The NFL finally had its first actual application of the new overtime two-possession rule. It worked. Everybody can shut up about it now.

Other notes from Week One:
• Rob Riggle has now taken over the Fox NFL pregame show picks segment. So that’s 10 more minutes of nap I can get before the games start.
• After last Wednesday, I’m not so sure the Giants practiced defending a slant pattern ever.
• Maybe taking two tight ends at 12 and 13 wasn’t the most ridiculous idea after all.

Prediction for Week Two: Instead of a handshake, Schwartz is going to shiv Harbaugh after the game Walter White style.

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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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