Hello Cowboys Nation, today we dig into the signing of Greg Hardy and what it means to the team’s 2015 season to sign the man widely considered the best defensive player left in free agency.
Dallas was 19th in total yards allowed on defense, which was actually best in the NFC East last year. But with some additions like Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia, Terrance Knighton to Washington, and the Giants getting lots of good players back from injury and likely to go defense in the first or second round of this year’s draft, we also had to be placed in a position to improve our defense – especially being in the NFC, we can’t get past Aaron Rodgers with just our offense.
Many know we’ve got a huge void on defense, particularly in the passing game. Our pass defense ranked 26th in 2014 and actually was worse than Washington and New York.
More than 4,000 passing yards is unacceptable though. We were the only team that gave up that many yards, yet made it as far as we did (Divisional Round, and the Steelers/Cardinals were two other playoff teams who gave up 4K in the passing game). Why is it unacceptable? Well, we could have been just as unlucky and been like Tampa Bay, who gave up just 53 more passing yards than we did.
I’m not saying that we can’t do anything without a pass defense – like make it into the playoffs – but our eyes need to be set on something much more, like a Super Bowl.
We should all know that the secondary is helped with pressure up front. How do we know this? Tony Romo tore up defenses when he was given 7-8 seconds in the pocket. That offensive line was able to hold some of the premier defensive fronts in the NFL in check for that to happen, and the only team we really had problems with were the Redskins. Keep in mind, that line played against Houston, Seattle, Arizona (L), Detroit, and St. Louis.
The defensive line, however, is where the issue is. I’ve always said that games are won or lost in the trenches. We’ve addressed the offensive line, but the defensive line is far from perfect. The Cowboys recorded 28 sacks last season. Ten sacks are by players who have bolted, including Henry Melton’s five. That number doesn’t even include players whose futures in Dallas are in doubt, like Rolando McClain and Anthony Spencer, even if they only contributed 1.5 sacks between them.
Dallas has been really smart with money this offseason. That’s the only reason they didn’t re-sign DeMarco Murray and guys like Melton. Bruce Carter and Justin Durant also signed elsewhere. We always look to the draft for guys who can make a significant impact at a position of need. However, we aren’t high enough to draft a player of DeMarcus Ware’s caliber, so we can’t expect our next #94 to come now.
We’ll likely draft at least one defensive linemen in the first couple of rounds but can we count on them to help Romo grab his championship this year and make the difference that Watt, Suh and Miller have? No, we can not. Doesn’t mean we won’t draft one, but we STILL need someone to do some damage THIS YEAR.
Meet Greg Hardy.
The player out of Ole Miss selected by the Panthers in the 6th round of the 2010 draft. He didn’t start his rookie year but managed three sacks in his various appearances. Over the next three years he compiled 30 sacks, including a second team All-Pro campaign back in 2013.
In the one game he played in 2014 before being put out due to scandalous allegations, he had 4 tackles, a sack, and stripped the ball once. After that game, you’d swear he was poised for a big, big year.
I mean, if you multiply his tackles and sacks in that one game by 16, that’s career highs, not to mention if he ever performed better than that one game. He might even have gotten a career high in forced fumbles too, since he would just need 2 more during those 15 games to do so.
I bring this up because Hardy’s 15 sacks in 2013 are more than half of what the entire Dallas Cowboys defense compiled last season. The team’s 28 sacks were also nine short of the NFC Champs Seattle Seahawks and twelve short of the Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. Both of those teams had elite corners in Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, along with a safety tandem many teams would die for.
If Greg Hardy is suspended let’s say four games, and he compiles a sack per game on average, that’s 12 sacks. Those dozen sacks help close the gap, and there’s no telling what he can do for the team if he wants to avenge his lost season.
I’m a moral kind of guy. I was disappointed in Josh Brent driving drunk and killing teammate Jerry Brown Jr. I was disappointed in Jay Ratliff, shortly after I might add, for driving drunk, too. I was disappointed in Joseph Randle last year when the guy making hundreds of thousands a year stole underwear and cologne. But what has Greg Hardy done that makes everyone say “No thanks”? The guy’s charges were dismissed after the ex received money for compensation, and then didn’t show for court that day, which makes anyone think she was all in it for the money. For a league of second chances who has accepted the likes of Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, and countless others back into the NFL (AND EVEN ADRIAN PETERSON), why not then give Greg Hardy a second chance?
Nobody can explain that to me. The guy was never convicted in the court of law. But that’s what the 21st Century is now, “guilty until proven innocent.”
I’m just saying, fans, you should be ecstatic about this signing. Especially since Stephen Jones constructed a risk-free deal, forcing Greg Hardy to actually play the games to receive the money.
If he gets hurt two games in, we only play him like $2 million. If he’s suspended, we don’t have to pay him. It’s low-risk, and very high reward. You should be proud of the Dallas Cowboys for making a push for another playoff run – or Super Bowl – while managing their money so well that we don’t get into a situation like we’re in now with Brandon Carr, and ones we’ve seen in the past.