Will some NFL defenses fake injuries to slow down the Eagles’ fast-paced offense? Probably. Will Chip Kelly complain about it? No.
When Kelly was asked about talk that the Chiefs might have been faking defensive injuries on Thursday night, he nipped it in the bud and said that’s simply not an issue he’s going to address. Kelly said he has too many issues to deal with on his own team and won’t get into the business of questioning other teams.
“Never, ever going to get into that,” Kelly said, via PhillyMag.com. “We need to execute better and not turn the football over. That’s the least of my worries right now.”
Philly fans began booing when Chiefs starting cornerback Sean Smith went down with an injury on Thursday night, but it wouldn’t make any sense for Smith to fake an injury. When defenses fake injuries, they typically do it to rotate defensive linemen, or to have a linebacker come out for an extra defensive back in the nickel package. If you’re going to cheat by telling a player to pretend he’s hurt, you’re not going to do it with a starting cornerback.
Still, even though Smith’s leg cramps were probably legitimate, it is also legitimate to point out that teams do, in fact, sometimes fake injuries. And that’s unfair. Kelly might not want to say anything about it, but the NFL should do something about it. A good step would be changing the rules so that any time the game has to be stopped for a player’s injury, that player cannot return to the field until there has been a change of possession. So if you’re a defensive player and you decide to fake an injury, you don’t just get to take a breather for a play or two and come back in. You have to stay on the sideline until the next series.
It’s impossible for anyone on the outside to know for sure whether a player is faking an injury. Impossible for fans, impossible for officials and impossible for Chip Kelly. But it would be possible for the NFL to tighten the rules about injury timeouts to make faking injuries less advantageous.