Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best. During their Week One victory over the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones accused the Giants of faking injuries in order to slow down the pace of the game. After watching the Philadelphia Eagles offense swiftly march down the field on Monday Night Football against the Washington Redskins, maybe faking injuries is the best way of stopping Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense. Especially when the NFL does nothing about it.
When the Cowboys attempted to pick up the offensive tempo via a no-huddle offense in the second quarter of Sunday night’s game, two Giant defensive players were conveniently injured on back-to-back plays. One of those players, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, returned after sitting out one play.
When asked about the Giants alleged use of injury tactics to slow the Cowboys offense, Jones said this to ESPNDallas.com:
“I thought us experts on football were the only ones who could see that. [laughs] No, it was so obvious it was funny. It wasn’t humorous because we really wanted the advantage, and knew we could get it if we could get the ball snapped.”
Head Coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin, adamantly denied the allegations calling them “absolutely not true.” He explained the situation via conference call on Monday to ESPNNewYork.com:
“Both of those players were injured (Dan) Connor never returned to the game. And Cullen was in a position where he needed to regroup. So that wasn’t orchestrated at all.”
Despite his remarks, neither Jones or the Cowboys organization filed any type of grievance with the NFL. Still, the league did review the claims, according ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder, and found no basis for punishment at this time.
If this was indeed a tactic by the Giants, it had little effect as the Cowboys scored a touchdown during that series.
The whole “faking injuries” conversation was amplified last week when former Chicago Bear linebacker and current Fox Sports 1 Analyst Brian Urlacher admitted his team had a player dedicated for this specific tactic. During an episode of his new show called Fox Football Daily, Urlacher said:
“We used to have a thing, our coach would go like this. [makes a diving motion] We had guy who was a ‘designated dive guy,’ so when the coach would go like that, he’d get ‘hurt.’ He’d be the guy who would fake an injury…We don’t coach it, it was just part of our game plan.”
In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Urlacher admitted he was a fan of that tactic as a player:
“It’s a part of the game. I used to love it when we used to do the dive. I’d be like, ‘Hell yes, we get a break.’ You got these high-powered offenses just running a ton of plays. You have to do something to slow them down.’
The NFL addressed faking injuries in a memo sent out tall all teams last year at this time. The memo stated:
“To avoid the necessity of a rule with many unattractive qualities, teams are strongly urged to cooperate with this policy….We have been fortunate that teams and players have consistently complied with the spirit of the rule over the years and this has not been an issue for the NFL. We are determined to take all necessary steps to ensure that it does not become an issue…Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game,” the memo states. “Discipline could include fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices.”
So, at the very least, the league has admitted it has a problem. That’s the first step, right? Unfortunately, how do you prove someone is faking an injury? How could anyone outside of the player himself ever truly know? The simply answer is they can not. And it is, has been and will continue to be one of the more shadier parts of the game we love.
So, football fans. Buckle-up. Because if conventional NFL defenses are not able to stop this new fad Eagles freight train that radio-host Dan Patrick calls the “spreader” offense, expect to see defensive players dropping like flies. Then they’ll miraculously jump up, jog to the Gatorade cooler on the sidelines, take a drink and a breather (maybe a smoke break) and run back onto the field after one play goes by. And the fans get the enjoyment of more injury time-outs, more Budweiser commercials and six hour long games. Everybody wins! Meh.