Tag:Deon Grant
Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:45 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: NFC East preview

Can Jerry get Tony enough help in 2012? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas 2011 season reeked of redemption for a lost 2010 season much of the way through. Despite close (and awkward) losses to the Patriots, Jets and Lions, the Cowboys rolled into December on a four-game winning streak, with a shot at closing out the NFC East. Then things absolutely fell apart: Jason Garrett iced his own kicker in an overtime loss to Arizona, Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin in a tight Week 14 loss to the Giants, Romo was injured the next week in a meaningless game against the Eagles and Dallas got pounded by the eventual Super Bowl champs on New Years Day. Then Jerry Jones team had to watch the 9-7 Giants march to a Super Bowl victory. Not a fun couple of months for them. And though most of the blame usually finds its way onto Romo or Garrett, significant upgrades on the offensive line and secondary could go a long way towards fixing the Cowboys problems and making them a legit contender.

Free Agents of Note
Linebacker Anthony Spencer was tagged on Monday by Dallas, so he'll be back at least one more year and could get a longer deal ... Tight end Martellus Bennett is a good blocker but hasn't panned out the way Dallas wanted ... Linebacker Keith Brooking is 36 but has drawn interest from Dallas to return in 2012 ... FB Tony Fiammetta is an RFA and needs to be retained, especially given the work he did for DeMarco Murray last year ... Linebacker Bradie James is 31 and could be gone ... Wide receiver Laurent Robinson really clicked with Tony Romo in 2012 and would be a big re-addition ... Punter Mat McBriar could be done in Dallas if the 'Boys want to move forward with Chris Jones.

Needs
Secondary
: Terence Newman, 33, could be a cap/age casualty and Abram Elam, Frank Walker and Alan Ball are free agents. If Dallas plans on remaining as aggressive as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants them to be, they'll need to drastically improve the secondary.
Guard
: Tyron Smith and Doug Free flipped sides and are locked in at tackle, but the interior of the line needs improvement.

Targets
Brandon Carr or Cortland Finnegan would be an ideal target for Dallas as longer-term options. Neither is expected to remain with their respective teams. But if the Cowboys can't get Carr, they'll need to pursue some shorter-term options like Carlos Rogers. Guard is deep in free agency too, and it would behoove the Cowboys to invest in a stud like Carl Nicks. Getting Spencer signed to a long-term deal, rather than give him $9 million in 2012, would do a lot for their cap space.

New York Giants

It's crazy to think that the Super Bowl champion Giants looked DOA by the start of the regular season; an almost unbelievable (were it not true) string of injuries hit the team before the season began. The Giants looked even worse off in the middle of a late-season swoon that featured some of the toughest

Free Agents of Note:
Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is going to get overpaid somewhere else based on his postseason performance ... Secret Super Bowl hero Steve Weatherford got the franchise tag Monday, so he'll be back in 2012 ... Wideout Domenik Hixon's already been re-signed ... Cornerback Aaron Ross says he wants to return but won't commit to a "hometown" discount ... Terrell Thomas was lost in the preseason but is closing in on a deal with the Giants ... Deon Grant is scheduled for free agency as well ... Both Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe tore their ACLs in the Super Bowl, so the Giants have to sign someone to play tight end ... Kareem McKenzie is 32-years-old and the Giants could be ready to move on after he struggled last season.

Needs
Tight End: This seems like a classic "address it at the end of the first round" issue, since the Giants could have their pick of Cody Fleener, Orson Charles and Dwayne Allen at No. 32. If not, they'll need to get someone from a not-so-attractive free agent pile.
Offensive Line: This is a unit that's getting older quickly. David Deihl can work anywhere on the line, but he's 31.
Secondary: If the Giants get Thomas, they could be fine here, as they've already got Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle. But last year proved how important depth really is, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them beef up the position.

Targets
The Giants are tight up against the salary cap this offseason, but are also coming off a year where they won the Super Bowl. The pressure isn't too intense on them to make a big splash with outside guys in free agency (nor should it be). If they can find value in a some cheaper offensive line options with a little upside (Geoff Schwartz anyone?) that would make the most sense in terms of an outside pick up.

Philadelphia Eagles

You know what happened here: a dream-team season quickly turned into a nightmare out of the gates, and the Eagles were the laughingstock of the NFL as they fell to 1-4. They finally turned things around with a four-game winning streak to close out at 8-8, giving Philly fans plenty of hope for 2012. (Not to mention helping Andy Reid's job security.) But there are still concerns here, because the Eagles have to get some linebackers and safeties in order to stop the run, manage their high-priced cornerbacks in a more efficient manner and keep Michael Vick from getting tattooed by opposing defenders. It's unlikely that Philly will make the same splash in free agency as they did in 2011, but that could actually be a good thing.

Free Agents: Running back Ronnie Brown might've thrown away (literally) any chance he had of returning to Philly ... DeSean Jackson got the franchise tag, and the team could still sign him long term or seek to trade him ... King Dunlap and Evan Mathis are both free agents on the offensive line; Mathis wants to return and should be priority No. 1 ... Trevor Laws, Juqua Parker and Derek Landri would depart the defensive line's depth if they all left ... Vince Young and Steve Smith, two big-name additions that didn't contribute much in 2011, seem likely to bolt.
Needs
Linebacker: Luke Koechly is the hot name for the Eagles in the draft, but his stock is rising and might not be available. Getting a middle linebacker who can stuff the run is absolutely essential for the Eagles defense in 2012. Adding some help at outside linebacker would be a bonus; acquiring linebackers isn't really Andy Reid's forte though.
Defensive Line Depth: The Eagles still have Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Trent Cole starting, but as noted above, they're going to need depth to keep those guys fresh throughout the year.

Targets
Linebacker, as noted, is the biggest need. Fortunately for the Eagles, there are some nice names out there. Stephen Tulloch and Curtis Lofton represent pricier, albeit talented, options at middle linebacker. Dan Connor's a name that's been rumored with Philly and he could make sense as a run-stopping specialist who doesn't cost that much.

Washington Redskins

As Clark Judge recently wrote, the Redskins are running out of options for 2012. Either get Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III or prepare to move on from Mike Shanahan. They'll have their chance at each, as Manning will be a free agent soon and the Rams are willing to deal the No. 2 pick in April's draft. And the Redskins success really could come down to the quarterback position: if they can get Manning or RG3 and put suitable weapons around one of those guys (I personally prefer RG3 for them), Washington could net a few more wins and at least challenge for the division title that Rex Grossman guaranteed before 2011 started.

Free Agents
Fred Davis was franchised and remains the team's most explosive offensive weapon but he needs to stay out of trouble ... Tim Hightower fits what Mike Shanahan wants to do but wasn't as effect ... London Fletcher is old but remains effective and the Redskins need him back ... Rex Grossman seems destined to remain with Shanny forever, even if it's just on one-year deals ... Graham Gano was tendered and should be back ... Washington's already re-signed center Will Montgomery ... LaRon Landry can't stay healthy but Washington might gamble on him at a cheap price ... Roy Helu makes Tim Hightower expendable, though Hightower was decent in his five starts before being injured.
Needs
Quarterback: Quite obviously.
Wide Receiver: Jabar Gaffney shouldn't be anyone's No. 1 wideout. If the Skins go with the Manning route, it's entirely possible they can lure other free-agent wideouts into town. Either way, reports indicate they want to get a "high-profile wide receiver" and that's a good thing. Pairing Manning or RG3 with a viable wideout could make this offense explosive in 2012.
Offensive Line: Washington's set at several slots on the front, but could use an upgrade on the right side, where Jamaal Brown in particular has not been as good as they'd hoped.
Targets
Manning's the main target here. If they can't get Peyton, then the Skins have to get RG3. Both are attainable, it's just whether or not the cost is prohibitive. Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston would all qualify as "marquee" wideouts. Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks would be obviously be tremendous adds and allow the Redskins to shift some personnel and improve their line. Evan Mathis would take away from a division opponent as well.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:11 pm
 

Rolle speaks his mind, whether you like it or not

Rolle

By Josh Katzowitz

INDIANAPOLIS – A month ago, Giants safety Antrel Rolle ripped some of his teammates for not playing through injuries. Two weeks ago, Rolle declared that his team “couldn’t be beat” before New York faced San Francisco. Somewhere in between, his mother gave him some advice.

Now, just to be clear, Rolle and his mom, Armelia Rolle, talk multiple times a day. Sometimes, as much as three or four times in a 24-hour span, and nobody -- not his coaches, his teammates or his conscience -- is going to be as truthful with him as she. They talk about life, about religion and about football.

So, when she gave him the advice to tone down his rhetoric and think about what he was going to say before the words left his mouth, he listened carefully.

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“As a mother, your first concern is what you read,” Rolle said. “She reads a lot, and she’s all about football. It definitely concerned her when she read things like, ‘Antrel needs to shut up’ or ‘He’s a distraction to the team.’ She knows I’m not that kind of guy, so for her to hear that as a mother, naturally it’s going to draw some concerns. It did for me as well. But I can’t pay attention to that.”

But then, like a preacher reading the summit of his sermon, Rolle’s voice began to rise during his time at Tuesday’s Media Day.

“I can hear it and I can feel it and it does bother me. But my only concern is for the betterment of this team. You ask guys in our locker room, and they say, ‘Antrel doesn’t say much.’ Nothing I ever say is premeditated, but what I say is what I feel deep. Whether it should be displayed to the media or not, I can’t say that. But I don’t take any of it back. I don’t have any regrets.”

Nor should he. The Giants have won five of their last six, and their defense has improved throughout the season. Toward the end of the year, when the Giants fell to 7-7 after yet another loss to the Redskins, Rolle said the injured players needed to stop babying themselves and get back into the game. Considering he'd also questioned Justin Tuck last season, Rolle's mouth was setting a disturbing trend.

But Rolle also isn’t seen by his teammates as a loudmouth locker room force. He isn’t known as a cancer. He’s just a guy who’s ultra-confident. He’s a guy who, in his mind, speaks the truth when it needs to be spoken.

“That’s the sad part people don’t know,” safety Deon Grant said. “They judge that book by that cover. He’s the total opposite. He’s not the kind of guy off the field who’s a loudmouth and getting in trouble. He’s a very respectable guy, a very kind-hearted guy. He makes all the people  who come into contact with, he takes care of them in his presence.”

And for better or for worse, Rolle isn’t going to change.

“I don’t think I can change,” he said. “I don’t know if I even want to change. I can only be smarter about how I may come off. But never, ever I have spoken out of anger. I just say what I feel.”

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:37 am
 

Film Room: Giants vs. Falcons wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


Both of these teams seem to be peaking at the right time. The Falcons are looking for their first playoff win in the Matt Ryan-Mike Smith-Thomas Dimitroff era; the Giants are looking for a second improbable Super Bowl surge in five years. Here’s the breakdown:


1. Falcons offensive approach
The Falcons spent most of the season trying to figure out if they would remain the two tight end/two-back run-oriented offense that has defined them since Mike Smith and his offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey arrived, or if they’d go ahead and assume the pass-first identity that Thomas Dimitroff committed them to when he traded a bounty for the chance to draft Julio Jones.

In the end, the pass-first approach won out. After fullback Ovie Mughelli went down with a Week 7 knee injury and Jones’ iffy hamstring strengthened, the Falcons drifted to more three-receiver sets and wound up finishing fourth in the league in pass attempts.

They also expanded Ryan’s presnap freedoms. The fourth-year quarterback has considerable power when it comes to audibling and changing protections at the line of scrimmage. In fact, it’s not unheard of for the Falcons to eschew huddling for an entire half. There have been some rough patches – Jones, in particular, was prone to mental mistakes early on – but the Falcons are finally clear about being a passing team.

By working out of three-receiver sets, Atlanta makes it tougher for defenses to double both White and Jones, as doubling both all but ensures Tony Gonzalez gets matched up on a linebacker:

Gonzalez has made a living feasting on zone defenses with an option route. With an option after Gonzalez gets over the top of a linebacker’s coverage, he runs his route based on how the safety plays. A lot of times the safety’s actions are determined by how he’s reading other receivers’ routes. This illustration shows the concept in its simplest terms. Gonzo and his QB must diagnose the defense the same way. That’s never been a problem for Matt Ryan and the veteran TE.

Also, what people don’t think about is how the three-receiver sets can actually help Atlanta’s power run game. Yes, there are fewer lead-blockers or offensive linemen for Michael Turner to run behind, but if Turner can get to the perimeter, he’s more likely to meet a defensive back than linebacker.

Not many defensive backs can’t tackle the 244-pounder one-on-one. This season Turner rushed for 459 yards on 93 attempts (4.9 average) out of three receiver sets.

The Falcons have not completely abandoned their heavy run game (they constantly used a fullback or extra tight end last week, likely to assure that Tampa Bay’s atrocious middle linebacker, Mason Foster, stayed on the field). If they don’t go no-huddle, they’ll be more inclined to bring in Michael Palmer, Reggie Kelly or Mike Cox, rather than stay exclusively in the three-wide spread.

That said, no-huddle would be an excellent tactic for them Sunday, as it could help quell the Meadowlands crowd and slow down that Giants’ pass-rush.

2. New York’s big nickel package
After rookie nickel corner Prince Amukamara got torched for the umpteenth time in early/mid-December, the Giants reverted back to their “big nickel” defensive package, with Antrel Rolle sliding down to slot corner/outside linebacker and either Deon Grant or Tyler Sash coming in to fill Rolle’s safety spot.

Rolle, whom the Cardinals drafted in the first round as a cornerback out of Miami, has the skills to cover slot receivers, and he also happens to be a superb run-defender. In fact, he’s so good that the Giants often used their “big nickel” package against base offensive personnel last season. Rolle doesn’t just offer solidity against the run; he’s also a shrewd blitzer and help-defender in zone coverage. In short, he’s a poor man’s Charles Woodson.

Obviously, though, if the Giants were overwhelmingly better with Rolle at slot corner, they wouldn’t have moved him back to safety to begin this season. Rolle being in the slot does leave the secondary a bit more vulnerable in downfield coverage. Cornerback Corey Webster’s terrific work in solo coverage ameliorates this somewhat, but Aaron Ross is a bit of a concern on the other side.

3. Atlanta’s approach
If Webster defends Julio Jones, Matt Ryan will look for the mismatch with Roddy White. If Webster defends White, Ryan will look for Jones. The Giants may want to give Ryan one more presnap read to dissect by having Webster alternate between defending Jones and White.

Regardless of where Webster lines up, a big focus of Ryan’s will be on getting the ball out quickly. He’s more inclined to find his rhythm with three-and five-step-drops, just as Tony Romo did in the second half Sunday night (it was a mistake for the Cowboys to not go with this approach earlier in that game).

Matt Ryan will be celebrating if he can get the ball out quickly. (Getty Images)

Even if Ryan’s rhythm is not a concern – and maybe it isn’t; the guy is a cerebral, fundamentally sound passer – Atlanta’s pass protection IS. The Falcons’ front five is a mauling, power-based group that is below the NFL’s athletic median.

It holds up because the five cogs are cohesive and familiar to Ryan. But that isn’t enough when facing a technician like Justin Tuck, a lightning bolt like Osi Umenyiora or a freak like Jason Pierre-Paul.

The only way the Falcons can give Ryan enough time to take a shot downfield is if they go max protect. Thus, when the Falcons do get away from their three-wide personnel, they won’t just be looking to pound the rock – they’ll be looking to go deep. The Giants secondary should be on high alert for play-action.

4. Stopping Eli and the passing game
Cris Collinsworth mentioned early in last Sunday night’s broadcast that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan regretted not blitzing Eli Manning more when they met back in Week 14. But in the rematch, Ryan quickly found out that even his most creative blitzes couldn’t faze Manning.

The eighth-year veteran has reached that level where he himself can’t be beat. He simply has too much intelligence, poise and arm strength. Instead, the way to beat Manning is to beat his receivers and hope that leads to Giants mistakes.

Thus, don’t expect the Falcons to do anything more with their pass-rush than the occasional zone blitzes that they’ve used all season. They’re better off focusing on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. The Redskins discombobulated the Giants in Week 15 by bracketing the top receivers with corners underneath and safeties over the top. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was betting that Manning would get impatient and force some balls into those coverages. He was correct.

Stifling the receivers outside is a great approach because it forces Manning to work to his third and fourth reads. He’s more than capable of that….as long as his protection holds up. The Falcons have only a good-but-not-great pass-rush (free agent pickup Ray Edwards has been a disappointment), but it’s a pass-rush that’s capable of exploding at any moment thanks to the supple speed of John Abraham. When Manning’s primary reads are covered, this offense goes from being big-play oriented to dink and dunk. That bodes well for the Falcons (see item 5).

5. Atlanta’s speed
The emergence of Sean Weatherspoon has been huge for Atlanta’s defense. The second-year linebacker is a swift, powerful three-down player who attacks the run and can patrol sideline-to-sideline in underneath coverage. The Falcons have a second player of this ilk in Curtis Lofton, a sound fourth-year pro who lacks Weatherspoon’s elite athletic prowess but compensates with decisive diagnostic skills.

With these two working behind vociferous, quick defensive tackles like Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters, it’s not only tough to run on the Falcons, it’s tough to execute screens, dumpoffs and shallow crosses. The intended receiver might catch the pass, but he’s not going far. If he does get away, he still has to get by William Moore and Thomas DeCoud, two of the game’s faster downhill safeties.
 
Overall, this speedy zone defense will be a problem for the Giants, a team that compensated for its bad run game this season by totaling 138 completions to Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe, Henry Hynoski, D.J. Ware, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all the wild-card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Film Room: Giants vs. Packers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What you’re about to read is not a prediction for the Giants to knockoff the undefeated Packers. The Giants are banged up, have lost back-to-back primetime games and are coming off a trouncing by the Saints offense.

Come Sunday, they’ll have had only six days to prepare for the even-more-prolific Packers – a team coming off a mini bye after playing last Thursday. But there are myriad opportunities to read about why Green Bay can further push New York into one of its patented late-season declines.

We already know which is the better team here. So instead of just joining the masses, let’s challenge ourselves by examining how/why the Giants might be able to pull off an upset.


1. Throwing from base personnel
The Giants offense is most comfortable operating out of base personnel (two backs, one tight end, two receivers). Base personnel gives the Giants more opportunities for a balanced run-pass gameplan and aids their play-action.

More importantly, if last year’s Week 16 matchup between these two clubs is any indication, the Packers will match the Giants’ base personnel with their own 3-4 base personnel. Green Bay is considerably less dangerous lining up in a standard 3-4. Most of Dom Capers’ blitzes and subterfuge come from the nickel 2-4-5 package (with Charles Woodson sliding into the slot).

Against the Pack’s basic 3-4, the Giants pass-blockers can worry less about identifying blitzes and more about traditional execution. The front five can focus on sliding protection towards Clay Matthews and the running backs will have a cleaner look at their help-blocking assignments (such as chipping on the edges or covering for a lineman who gets confounded by a stunt).

What’s more, out of base personnel, the Giants running backs would be bigger factors in the pass game, and Eli Manning would also have a chance to attack A.J. Hawk in coverage. Hawk has recently improved as a space player, but offenses still prefer throwing at him inside and down the seams versus throwing at Charles Woodson or the safeties against the nickel look.

Tight end Jake Ballard (30 receptions, 490 yards this season) gives the Giants an auspicious target in this matchup.

2. The Bradshaw factor
If Ahmad Bradshaw does not return from his foot injury this week, you might as well watch Rams-Niners or Cardinals-Cowboys or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills during the late afternoon window. Without Bradshaw in the backfield, it will be very difficult for New York to throw out of base personnel, as Brandon Jacobs plays with oven mitts over his hands and D.J. Ware has not shown impressive start/stop quickness in the flats.

Bradshaw is a quick, versatile receiver and an underrated pass-blocker. More importantly, he’s far and away New York’s best runner (Jacobs can still plow over defenders when he has a head full of steam, but his lack of initial burst is a real hindrance to the ground game).

Running the ball is critical for the Giants because it helps keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.

3. The Eli factor
If Eli Manning is not in the tail end of that Tom Brady elite class, he’s comfortably at the very head of the class right after it. It sounds implausible, but Little Brother these days is underrated. Manning is having a career-year despite injuries to his receivers, top running back and offensive line (most recently, left tackle Will Beatty, who missed Monday’s game with a detached retina and will sit out again Sunday).

The Giants offense, even with the injuries and disappearance of its rushing attack (82.3 yards per game, 32nd in the NFL) has managed to post 22.9 points per contest (16th in NFL).

Manning, with his audible powers at the line, almost never lets the Giants attempt an ill-fated play. What’s not talked about enough is his arm strength. He has the gun to get the ball outside the numbers or through tight windows – and he can do it while throwing off-balance or falling back with defenders in his face. He’s as tough in the pocket as any quarterback in the game and, in the last year or two, he’s become routinely accurate.

4. How to attack downfield
The Giants may not prefer to spread the field and make this a shootout – they don’t have the wide receiver depth for that, especially if Mario Manningham’s knee remains an issue. But given the brilliance of the Packers offense, it’s possible – if not probable – that Big Blue will have to score 30-plus in order to win.

If that’s the case, the Giants may want to copy the Chargers’ approach from Week 9, when Philip Rivers & Co. hung 38 points and 460 yards on the Pack. In that game, San Diego lined up in condensed formations, with their receivers in minus splits (inside the numbers). With receivers starting their routes closer to the middle of the field, the Packer defensive backs were forced to defend more space, as they could not rely on the sideline for help:

The Chargers have good receivers and they got great protection up front that day, so they were able to capitalize on the condensed formations. The Giants receivers might be a grade below the Chargers’ (it’s debatable), but regardless, they’re capable of winning one-on-one matchups in space. The Giants’ O-line struggled two weeks ago against the Eagles, but it’s been stellar in protection most of this season.

Condensed formations don’t just create more space for receivers’ routes, they also create opportunities for picks and rubs with crossing routes, which present problems for any defense in man coverage.

5. Giants defense
As we covered in last week’s Film Room post, the Giants like to use their big nickel defense (two linebackers, three safeties) against an offense’s base personnel – especially when the offense has a versatile tight end (like Jimmy Graham last week or Jermichael Finley this week). Expect to see Deon Grant, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips all on the field for most of this game.

It’s impossible to devise a gameplan that can stop Rodgers and this Green Bay passing attack. Your best bet is to bank on what you do best. For the Giants, that means rushing the passer with four. They got absolutely nothing from their pass-rush Monday night, which was disappointing given the glaring mismatch they had with their ends against the Saints’ iffy tackles. A four-man rush gives coordinator Perry Fewell seven defenders to play with in coverage, which allows for tighter zones and plenty of freelance defenders in man schemes.

The Giants stymied the Patriots with tight man coverage across the board a few weeks ago. That may not work in this matchup. The Packer receivers are the best in the league at beating man-to-man (in part because Rodgers is a genius when it comes to back-shoulder throws). Plus, the Patriots have a horizontal passing game; the Packers are more capable at beating you vertically. One slip by a man defender can equal six points for the offense.

In all likelihood, there won’t be just one simple solution for Fewell and his men on Sunday. They’ll have to mix coverages and try different things, all the while hoping that their star-studded pass-rush can show up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 13 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:32 pm
 

Reggie Bush says Saints had fake injury play

Bush: the Giants looked "real bush league" on the fake injury play during MNF. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The biggest story of Week 2 didn't emerge until Monday night, specifically the moment when Giants safety defensive back Deon Grant (allegedly) faked an injury to slow down the Rams' no-huddle offense.

In the ensuing days, Grant defended himself, inexplicably, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell did not, and plenty of folks have come forward to share their thoughts on what it means to pretend to be hurt.

Next up: Reggie Bush, who admitted that the Saints had a such a play in their playbook (via the Miami Herald): 

“We actually had that before in New Orleans,” Bush said, referring to the fake injury play. “It’s just one of those things when you get those hurry-up offensive teams. I mean, it’s legal. They haven’t made any rules yet to say it’s not legal.

“... For the most part you’re supposed to have a designated guy for that. It’s not supposed to be four or five guys falling on the ground at the same time. Obviously that looks real bush league.”

Faking injuries: everybody's doing it

Remember all the mock outrage in the days and weeks following the Patriots Spygate scandal? And then we found out that, to varying degrees, almost every NFL team taped opponents' signals? Sounds like faking injuries isn't much different.

Don't misunderstand, New England was rightly punished for Spygate. But it's not like they were the only team with a video recorder pointed at the opponent's sideline. And, as Bush mentioned above, the Giants had guys going down like there were snipers in the stands. The takeaway: moderation is the key to avoiding detection and ultimately, league sanctions.

Either way, we're with Ed Reed on the whole faking injuries phenomenon.

“I don’t know if they were pretending, man,” Reed said earlier this week. “Sometimes guys get tired. But it’s all within the game. It’s all tactical stuff that you need to use. Whatever it takes.”

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Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 10:56 am
 

Giants coach Perry Fewell doesn't deny faking

Perry Fewell and Deon Grant respond to accusations by Bryan Kehl(Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson


We're four days into "Fake injuries: Why, lord, why?" and while the mock outrage has waned, the conversation about whether it's acceptable to take dives continues. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe sent out a helpful reminder that "this isn't soccer, play like you have a pair" (the league sent out its own memo on the matter, too), but that came a day after former Giants linebacker Bryan Kehl accused Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell of teaching his players to fake injuries.

When asked about it Thursday, Fewell, instead of flat-out denying the charge, offered this: "I can't say I've ever done that and I can't say that I haven't done that."

Informative. There's more.

"I know that [Giants safety Deon Grant] was down and I was glad that he got up, and he was able to play. 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. So I'm not gonna go back and forth about it."

Weird, we thought "maybe, maybe not" was exactly what it meant to go back and forth. Not to worry, though; Perry defended himself when asked if Kehl's accusations were an attack on his integrity. "I'm not gonna respond."

The Giants and injurygate

That's a peculiar reply to somebody calling you out like that. But Grant, the player accused of faking an injury during Monday night's Rams-Giants game, had Fewell's back (Grant has defended himself, too).

"That's a lie. That's a lie," Grant said after Giants practice on Thursday. "Perry never said that a day in his meetings since I've been here. And Kehl's been here as long as I have with Perry Fewell."

Grant then hedged.

"And even if (Fewell did teach players to fake injuries), that was a coward move to me," Grant said of Kehl. "Even if that's something I was coached and I go somewhere else, I'm not selling out the guys that I went to war with. That's just not me. So that's a coward move if that was the case, and he still said something about it, but it's even worse when he lies. A grown man lying on another grown man, that's terrible."

Right. It's almost as awkward as a grown man saying something like, say, "I can't say I've ever done that and I can't say that I haven't done that."

Look, we don't have a dog in this fight, and in the scheme of things, pretend boo-boos are hardly the scourge on the NFL that some folks have made it out to be. In fact, we're with Ravens safety Ed Reed, who was asked if he thought the Giants were faking Monday night.

“I don’t know if they were pretending, man,” Reed said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “Sometimes guys get tired. But it’s all within the game. It’s all tactical stuff that you need to use. Whatever it takes.”

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:15 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 9:16 pm
 

Kluwe's whiteboard speaks out on fake injuries

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is unimpressed with your pretend ailments. (AP/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

There's so much more to Chris Kluwe than professional football punter. In addition to his day job with the Vikings, he's also in a band, and avid gamer (we're going out on a limb: based on his Twitter handle he's really into World of Warcraft … and check), brutally honest, a great writer and, in general, hilarious.

Last October, after the league started cracking down on illegal hits and fining just about anything that moved (they even sent around a handy "Here's how you tackle properly!" video that was universally mocked), Seahawks punter Jon Ryan got absolutely obliterated by Bears wideout Earl Bennett. To which the league said: "Bravo! That's what we're talking about. Perfectly legal!"


This prompted Kluwe to consult the Vikings' locker room whiteboard (click the image to enlarge):


Well, ten months later Kluwe and the whiteboard are back, this time warning of the dangers of fake injuries. Here's a tweet from Thursday:


Deon Grant has no idea what you're talking about, Kluwe.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Dungy: Texans biggest offenders for fake injuries

Dungy on faking injuries: Texans were the worst offenders. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

As far as football games go, the Monday night matchup between the Rams and Giants was pretty forgettable. In fact, the lasting memory from the game wasn't a particular play, but the sight of two Giants players laying on the turf pretending to be injured. Safety Deon Grant offered up a flimsy self-defense, and the league has threatened to punish future offenders. Perhaps worst of all, critics compared the Giants' tactics to a bunch of diving soccer players.

The Giants and injurygate

But when it comes to make-believe injuries, the Giants aren't nearly as bad as, say, the Texans. Former Colts coach and division rival Tony Dungy explained in great detail Thursday during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show.

Patrick asked Dungy if he had ever had a player fake an injury.

"No I've never done that but in the time I was coaching in Indy we saw it quite a bit, we really did," Dungy said. "It's a tactic that is used, it's part of what's happening now in the NFL and it's really tough to prove. We sent in a lot of tapes to the league and it never could get resolved so just kind of have to go with the flow and know that it's going to happen."

When Patrick asked if Dungy remembered which teams he reported to the league, Dungy didn't hesitate.

"The biggest offenders we saw were the Houston Texans. We played them twice a year, our players knew the defensive line coach there, they knew the signal for faking an injury," he said. "Chad Bratzke would always tell me, 'Here it comes. Guy's gonna fall down right now.'

"And that's what would happen and, you know, they'd catch their breath or whatever and get the substitutions in, you'd send it in to the league and say, 'Hey, this guy was never contacted on the play, let's look at it. The trainer's out there for three or four minutes working on him.'

"But it really is hard to tell. And how can you say when a guy really is hurt and when he isn't? Miraculously, though, they all seem to come back into the game."


* via SportsGrid.com

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com