Mac Engel

Cowboys could use more talent, but ‘boneheads’ not worth risk

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, center, leaves the Mecklenburg County Courthouse after his domestic violence charges were dismissed in Charlotte, N.C., Monday.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, center, leaves the Mecklenburg County Courthouse after his domestic violence charges were dismissed in Charlotte, N.C., Monday. AP

We have not seen Jerry “Mother Teresa” Jones at Valley Ranch in some time, and his well-documented streak of football benevolence has coincidentally been stymied since Jason Garrett took over as his head ball coach. Thank God.

It is by design that Garrett has steered his GM away from adding “boneheads” — Alonzo Spellman, Tank Johnson, Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones come to mind.

Garrett has created a professional atmosphere where players are accountable. The Cowboys have about as good an NFL locker room as could be expected.

Something Coach Process has deliberately shied away from since he took over full-time as head coach is to acquire the “questionable guy.” Josh Brent and Dez Bryant were already here, and every so often a Joseph Randle is going to happen.

Every coach at some point must ask himself if the talent is worth the headache, and if he can “control the situation.” He has the team strong enough to handle a headcase, but seldom are these guys worth it.

Armed with a new five-year contract and the type of capital born from a 13-win season that included an NFC East title and a playoff win, Garrett can go ahead and acquire a headache, provided the name is Adrian Peterson and not Greg Hardy.

Neither of these men is available yet, but there are signs both could be had on the cheap.

On Monday, the domestic violence charges against Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy were dropped. Read between the lines; it sounds like a cash payment was made.

Neither the NFL nor the Panthers is making any firm commitment about his future, but a dropped charge will likely mean no six-game suspension for Hardy under the league’s new penalty for domestic abusers. Reports from Charlotte said that the Panthers are done with Hardy.

He played in one game last season and then was placed on the inactive roster because of the domestic assault charge. He is also exactly what the Cowboys desperately need. In reviewing the tape of the Cowboys’ playoff loss in Green Bay, two things are apparent:

1.) Dez Bryant caught that ball.

2.) The Cowboys’ pass rush was awful. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was playing on one leg, and the only thing that bothered him in the pocket was his bum calf muscle, not a Cowboys defender.

Hardy could make Rodgers uncomfortable, almost as much as his mere presence will inevitably make some support groups that are rightfully appalled at the NFL’s tolerance for dudes who hit their significant others.

Hardy had 26 sacks in 2012 and ’13, and will be 27 at the start of the season. He is the ideal edge rusher. The Cowboys need his talents, but they don’t need him.

He is a dummy, and one of the primary reasons this Cowboys team was so good in ’14 was because it was comprised of good football pros. They were not perfect (see: Randle, Joseph), but they were professional.

It is telling that the Panthers are being so quiet about Hardy. When Josh Brent was going through his vehicular manslaughter charge two years ago, the Cowboys supported him because they knew him, and they liked him.

The Panthers know Hardy, who has been with the franchise since they drafted him in the sixth round in 2010. There is a reason they are not commenting: They like his talents, but not him.

That is a reddest of red NFL personnel flags, and means the Cowboys should keep moving if Hardy hits the free-agent supermarket. His presence is so tempting because he is so good, but when a dummy changes teams seldom is he the same player, especially after a high-profile off-the-field-incident. Hardy is good, but let him be good for somebody else.

Using that model, the Cowboys should take Adrian Peterson.

This assumes the Cowboys will not re-sign DeMarco Murray, and don’t want to make Randle the feature back. That would create the hole for Peterson. AD, of course, has yet to be reinstated by the NFL for violating the stance on...disciplining kids. He also has yet to be released by the Vikings, and it is beginning to look less likely that will actually happen.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has said he wants AD back, and there is a reason why Vikings GM Rick Spielman was cryptic with his comments regarding their meal-ticket runner when he spoke about him in January. He likes Peterson, and wants that guy on his team. Maybe he does not want AD disciplining his kids, but he wants AD on Sundays, and in his locker room.

Jason Garrett has a specific idea of what qualities he wants in his football players, and one of them is decent pros. Both Hardy and Peterson screwed up, but only one of the teams wants their player back.

Neither candidate is ideal, but of the two AD is the guy the Cowboys should pursue while keeping Mother Teresa Jones permanently retired.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog