Part of the initial attraction to Greg Hardy for the Dallas Cowboys was the hope that he'd earn nothing more than a four-game suspension for his domestic-violence-case involvement. Now we know the suspension is essentially a worst-case scenario: the first 10 games of the 2015 Cowboys season.
Dallas was, before the signing of Hardy to an incentive-heavy one-year deal, in the precarious position it found itself in last season: entering the draft with a glaring need at the position. That forced the club to trade up in the 2014 second round (at the cost of a third-rounder) in order to secure the last prospect they saw as a viable threat, Demarcus Lawrence. With the Hardy deal finalized, the Cowboys looked to have young bookend defensive ends that can wreak havoc on opposing offenses and allow Rod Marinelli’s defense the flexibility he craves.
But with the lengthy suspension? Well, the eventual cap impact will be lessened. But so will the on-field impact. And of course, now the Cowboys need to stay very open-minded about another pass-rusher in this draft.
Dallas inked Hardy to a deal that could've maxed out at $13 million but is so incentive-laded that it counted only $3.2 million against the cap immediately. When he's on the field, eventually, we can argue the Cowboys will be sporting one of the league’s top Front-Seven units.
Or, we can worry about Hardy being the first of many paper tigers in this House of Cards.
There are still plenty of question marks surrounding the defense. Will the club be able to keep Rolando McClain happy? Of course, there’s still a question mark about how well Sean Lee will be recovered from his ACL surgery last summer, and how healthy he'll be able to stay. Tyrone Crawford is penciled in as the full-time three-technique defensive tackle but he might need lots of help, and now we wonder from which end Lawrence will be asked to help.
Looking forward? Dallas will get good stuff from Hardy. Over Hardy’s career, mostly at the beginning, he has spent some time at the left defensive end spot.
|Year||LDE Rush Snaps||LDE Rush Productivity||LDE Sacks||RDE Rush Snaps||RDE Rush Productivity||RDE Sacks||Total Rush Snaps||Total Rush Productivity||Total Sacks|
Pass Rush Productivity is a ProFootballFocus metric that combines sacks, quarterback hits and quarterback pressures, weighting sacks more heavily, to show the total disruption picture for defensive players.
Last year, despite words of hope that Dallas would be able to use Jeremy Mincey inside at times to help with the rotation at the three-technique, he was primarily relegated to right defensive end as Lawrence missed the first half of the season, then spent the second half working his way into the rotation. Anthony Spencer and George Selvie split time at left defensive end. Mincey had the best rate at 9.9 followed by Selvie’s 7.4 and Spencer’s 5.4. The highest rated was actually Crawford in his limited time outside, with a whopping 13.8.
Hardy has shown that while he has experience on the left side, his is much more explosive on the right. Could Dallas and Marinelli look to move Demarcus Lawrence to the left?
It’s a case made even more interesting by the fact that Hardy has been really good at stopping the run his last two full seasons, albeit from the right side. A run stop is when you keep the offense from gaining enough yards to consider a play successful (40% of necessary yardage on first down, 60% of nec. Yardage on second, 100% on third and fourth). Hardy ranked tied for fourth amongst all 4-3 DE’s both in 2013 and 2012.
So in theory, do you leave him be on the right side and move Lawrence left, where he will gain the assistance of strongside linebacker and being on the back end as the team tries to funnel plays to the WILL and hopefully Sean Lee?
But all those "theories'' go out the window now. The NFL’s investigation found that Hardy violated the Personal Conduct Policy by using physical force against Nicole Holder in at least four instances. The league statement reads: First, he used physical force against her which caused her to land in a bathtub. Second, he used physical force against her which caused her to land on a futon that was covered with at least four semi-automatic rifles. Third, he used physical force against her by placing his hands around Ms. Holder’s neck and applying enough pressure to leave visible marks. And fourth, he used physical force to shove Ms. Holder against a wall in his apartment’s entry hallway.
“The net effect of these acts was that Ms. Holder was severely traumatized and sustained a range of injuries, including bruises and scratches on her neck, shoulders, upper chest, back, arms and feet,” Commissioner Goodell wrote. “The use of physical force under the circumstances present here, against a woman substantially smaller than you and in the presence of powerful, military-style assault weapons, constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”
Hardy’s suspension will begin on September 5, the day of final roster reductions for NFL teams. He may participate in all preseason activities, including the offseason workout program, OTA days, minicamps, training camp, and preseason games. He will be eligible for reinstatement following the Cowboys’ 10th game of the regular season.
“You must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement and must not commit any additional violations of league policies,” Goodell wrote in the letter to HArdy. “In that respect, you should understand that another violation of this nature may result in your banishment from the NFL.”