The acting of two Giants players this past Monday night might not get them an Academy Award, but it has put the team and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell under scrutiny for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Both Jacquian Williams and Deon Grant were seen on television in the fourth quarter of the Giants Monday night win over the Rams, apparently faking injuries in an effort to stop the Rams hurry-up offense from gaining any momentum. Both Williams and Grant deny any wrongdoing or faking on their part but former Giants linebacker Bryan Kehl confirmed the suspicion of many that the tactic was frequently employed and encouraged by Fewell to take the offense out of their rhythm. Both Williams and Grant's fakes were bad and probably should have been a red card.
Kehl said he was coached by Fewell to fake injuries, something the Giants defensive coordinator isn't exactly doing a good job of denying.
"I can't say I've ever done that and I can't say that I haven't done that," Fewell said. "If the guy can't play to his full potential and he was hurt, then he was hurt. But I can't say I did and I can't say I've never done that. I'm not going to go back and forth about what I have coached or what I haven't coached."
The "Flopgate" controversy is now opening up the discussion around the league of faking injuries. The NFL sent a memo to all teams condemning the practice of faking injuries to slow down or stop an offense from driving down the field. Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher told the NFL Network that he has never faked an injury but he can understand it as a strategy.
In fact, Fletcher seemed more upset that Kehl was a snitch than he was about any underhanded tactics by the Giants.
"I have problem with the former Giants linebacker telling what Perry Fewell's strategy was. As a defensive player, you're looking for different edges and things like that. My issue is the Giants have to get better coordinated because two guys falling at one time, that was terrible acting," Fletcher said. "And then one guy gets back up, that just makes it even worse. He looks to the sideline and says, 'oh no, let me decide to get up.' Whether Deon Grant was really hurt or not, that's yet to be proven; he says he was but I don't know about that one."
It is a practice though that seems fairly commonplace in the NFL and that offensive players, though there is a general disdain for it, seem to have accepted. In fact, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew thinks it is just part of the game.
"I've heard of it as being a strategy, I've seen it in college a couple of times; I think last year Cal pulled that against Oregon and a couple of other teams that run that no-huddle offense. But it's part of the game. This is a chess match you're playing; you're trying to figure out a strategy," Jones-Drew said. "If a guy or a team gets ahead of you, you have to find a way to get your composure back. I don't see anything wrong with it. It's just part of the game. It's been a part of it since the beginning so it's something you have to deal with."
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer