Cowboys Continue to Shrink as Dez Watches
The Cowboys in-flight movie home after Sunday’s disappointingly bizarre 27-20 loss at the Giants? Ant-Man, a choice that serves as an unintentional reflection of the team’s shrinking playoff chances.
“The challenge is daunting,’’ owner Jerry Jones told me after 2-4 Dallas’ fourth-straight loss. “We should and will go…quarter-by-quarter. That’s all we need to be looking at. We can’t afford to look down the road. It’s daunting.’’
Before the Cowboys look forward, though, they will look back. And they will look inside themselves. That goes for Greg Hardy and that goes for Dez Bryant, two headline-grabbing stars who crossed paths in an attention-getting sideline exchange.
Hardy, whose behavior is infamously controversial, charged into the sideline special-teams huddle after that group had given up a late-game 100-yard kickoff return to ex-Cowboy Dwayne Harris. In the pile, Hardy appeared to slap a clipboard out of the hands of special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and also shoved away teammates trying to calm him.
“There’s no beef with (Hardy),’’ Dez told me after the game. “He’s a beast. He loves the game. We feed off of it. It’s all great. He’s great.’’
Jones and coach Jason Garrett agreed.
Jones: “He’s one of the real leaders on this team and he earns it. That’s the kind of thing that inspires.’’
Garrett: “I don’t think that’s an issue at all. I was standing right there. You want passion.’’
Part of what Hardy was yelling was, “Help me help you!’’ — certainly not a negative message. But the perception has already taken on a life of its own, which is the main reason such behavior crosses a line.
After the game, Hardy was virtually inconsolable, at one point folding his huge frame into the confines of his locker stall. Eventually he conducted a “no comment’’ press conference. Later, I visited with him to discuss with him Dez and Jerry’s remarks about the sideline exchange.
“I appreciate that,’’ Hardy told me. “But I don’t care who says what. It doesn’t matter right now.’’
What does matter? The Romo-less Cowboys discovered that in Matt Cassel they have a bus driver just as capable of throwing interceptions (three in the second half) as Brandon Weeden was. They re-discovered their running game, with Darren McFadden subbing for Joe Randle (back strain) as Dallas rushed for 233 yards. Hardy and the defense actually gave up just one touchdown, but…
Add it all up, and you can understand why Dez tells me – maybe foolishly – that he’s willing to return to the field even if his foot is not 100-percent healed.
‘I don’t honestly think that it has to be all the way 100 percent for me to get back on the field,’’ Dez said. “That’s my choice. We’ll see about it. If I can go, I’m gonna go.”
And if the Cowboys don’t starting “going,’’ they are going to keep shrinking.