If the Dallas Cowboys are going to remain enrolled at the Greg Hardy Leadership Academy, and deal with the subsequent PR headaches that come with subsidizing this school, their defense should at least enjoy some of the benefits.
Forget some. At this point, settle for A benefit.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett made one statement on Sunday night in regards to the recent report by Deadspin on Friday involving Hardy’s domestic violence incident. For the record, Garrett said “we as an organization don’t condone domestic violence.”
Whew. That’s a huge relief.
“We laid out our expectation for him right from the start,” Garrett said. “Those expectations and those standards are very clear to him. He’s worked very hard for this football team.”
The final question for Garrett in his post-game presser after the Cowboys’ 33-27 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was, “Has he been worth it to your team?”
A great and legit question.
“I don’t want to talk any more about Greg Hardy,” Garrett said.
I’ll bet you don’t.
When Garrett signed a five-year $30 million extension in the off-season he turned around and agreed to add the NFL’s most controversial player. Garrett is smart enough to know there would be some PR moves necessary, but considering the player everyone involved should have known this had disaster potential.
Hardy has not been a disaster, but it is close.
A coach, and a team, can deal with all of it if they win. Thus far Hardy has not been worth the enormous headache his presence has caused this franchise, or this coach, and not done enough for this defense. If a team is going to bring this guy on, they better have some wins, and he better be J.J. Watt.
His old team, the Carolina Panthers, can’t lose without him and his new team can’t win with him. The Cowboys’ defense, despite the many “upgrades” highlighted by Hardy, made in the off-season, stinks.
The 2015 Dallas Cowboys’ season will be anchored to the loss of Tony Romo suffered in Week 2, and the long absence of Dez Bryant, but don’t let those realities distract you from the other disheartening truth that the defense is actually worse than a year ago despite the addition of Hardy, and a few others.
Last year’s defense was out-manned, but over-achieved. This group is more talented, but cannot be counted on to do much of anything.
With Hardy joining his defensive linemates on Sunday night in collectively applying zero pressure on Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Sam Bradford, the Eagles won in overtime with another walk-off overtime touchdown pass.
This was the second time this season the Cowboys went to overtime, and both times the defense was not good enough to give their offense a chance to make a single play in the extra session.
The first was Oct. 4, also on a Sunday night, in New Orleans when Saints’ QB Drew Brees laced a beauty to running back C.J. Spiller for a game-winning 80-yard TD pass.
On Sunday night, it was Bradford to receiver Jordan Matthews for a 41-yard catch and run to end the game.
Of note - linebacker Sean Lee had been hurt earlier in both games and was out for the respective game-enders. He might have made the difference in New Orleans. He was not going to make the difference against the Eagles; rookie safety Byron Jones fell down, and Matthews ran wild into the end zone.
An offense with backup quarterback Matt Cassel slinging it, and a running back going over 100 yards, should have been enough at home against the Eagles. The Cowboys’ scoring 27 points has to be enough to win.
But with this Cowboys defense, impossible is nothing.
They did not force a turnover, again. They sacked the slow-footed Bradford just once. The Eagles’ running game ran 35 times for 172 yards. Our old friend DeMarco Murray gained 83 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown.
“As the game wore on, they got us on our heels a bit,” Garrett said after the game before leaning on the need to ‘watch the tape’ to know exactly what he needs to know. “I love how our team plays. They scratch. They claw. They fight. Unfortunately that’s not enough.”
No, no it’s not.
Lee had to leave the game earlier with an apparent concussion. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain looks lost, disinterested, or done. He is on a one-year contract and playing like a guy who simply is done with football.
Tyrone Crawford has been mostly invisible on the defensive line, and guys such as Tank Lawrence, Jeremy Mincey and Randy Gregory have been hurt, or done little.
This was not supposed to be a Doomsday Defense, but they should be better than this. It’s not all on Greg Hardy, but he has to be better otherwise - no - he is not worth it.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.