When Chip Kelly entered this league, we knew that coordinators would devise ways to combat his system. They have had success bringing men in the box and leaving a single safety deep, making receivers beat them in man coverage and forcing Michael Vick to make right choices.
One part of this strategy was used to prime effect in the loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. More than once, during an important drive, the Chiefs’ defensive players went down with “cramps,” stopping the game for the moment to get looked at on the field.
Now, the league did address this before the season, saying that fake injuries would be penalized and dealt with after league review. We’ve seen other games, most notoriously between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, where teams have been accused of faking injuries. I’m sure this is a tactic that has been going on for decades, but they do need to find a better way to examine injuries and enforce penalties.
How tough would it be to have an independent physician on each sideline to back up team-administered help to the player? They could examine the injury the same way a turnover is examined and let the officials know if there is some soccer-level diving going on.
The penalties should be harsh both during and after the game. The league shouldn’t have a problem with it considering they are so offensive focused at the moment, and removing fake injuries would only benefit the team with the ball. This will not happen on the Philadelphia Eagles‘ account though. It will take a team like the New England Patriots losing the Super Bowl on a fake injury that derails a drive.
These players taking dives are just one additional obstacle Kelly will have to face as he tries to right this ship and get the team back into playing shape for the remainder of the season.