NEW YORK (AP) — If you’re dizzy from “Deflategate,” take heart. It’s time to talk football and put aside all that hot air.
Tom Brady is suiting up Thursday night against Pittsburgh when the New England Patriots celebrate their victories in the Super Bowl and federal court.
Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appeal of his latest loss regarding player punishment assures that we haven’t heard the last of “Deflategate.” Yet, there are plenty of other buzzwords invading eardrums and vocabularies as the march to Super Bowl 50 begins.
During the draft, you heard about prospects who were “NFL ready,” had “character issues” or were “a medical.” In the preseason, there was lots of talk about guys who had “high motors,” were “proven winners” or had a nice mix of “fundamentals,” ‘’intangibles” and “smarts” perhaps to go with a “strong arm.” Or maybe they simply had the “It” factor.
Now, it’s time to — as they say — “shift gears” and listen to commentators get deeper into X’s and O’s and the new advanced statistics the NFL is providing this season. You’ll hear talk about the “Big Nickel” defense, “hybrid safeties,” the “step-kick” coverage and all about your team’s “win probability,” (just WP for those familiar with next-generation stats).
These terms aren’t necessarily new, but they’ve moved from NFL meeting rooms to broadcast booths, sports radio and chats among fans.
Here’s a look at some of the terms you’ll hear about this season:
BIG NICKEL: A defense with an extra safety replacing a linebacker as opposed to an extra cornerback. This is used to handle big, fast tight ends like Brady’s buddy Rob Gronkowski.
HYBRID SAFETY: A safety who was converted from cornerback in college after adding some muscle in the NFL. These are often the guys who square off with tight ends in the Big Nickel.
STEP-KICK: The name Seattle’s star-studded secondary attached to how their cornerbacks play when aligned in press coverage. As opposed to the old-school bump-and-run coverage, where a cornerback tries to dictate where a receiver goes, this style is based on patience and reaction, like guarding the ball-handler in basketball.
ROUTE TREE: A receiver’s repertoire. With the proliferation of spread offenses in college, wide receivers are no longer given time to adjust to the NFL but must make an immediate impact. To do so, they’ll have to learn the multitude of routes right away.
INVERTED VEER: A version of the zone read that has both the QB and RB on the same side of the field. It’s called inverted because the quarterback is on the inside and the running back on the outside rather than the other way around. Cam Newton is particularly adept at this style.
advanced stat for numbers geeks stating the chance a team will win a game in progress given the score, time remaining, field position, down and distance. For instance, the Seahawks had an 87 percent win probability before Malcolm Butler’s interception at the goal line in the Super Bowl.
—GRINDERS: A term with roots in the NHL applied to selfless players who can play anywhere, don’t usually get the accolades but are beloved by coaches and teammates. Remember how Randy Moss used to take some plays off when he wasn’t targeted? Great player. Not a grinder. Jason Witten, definitely a grinder.