NFC East Roundup: Greg Hardy, Cowboys Reeling

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

With the bye week upon us, here’s a spin around the rest of the division to catch you up on what’s going on.

The Dallas Cowboys are watching their season crumble from underneath them after yet another loss, writes the Dallas Morning-News’s Rainer Sabin.

The Cowboys are in a freefall and the season is starting to slip away. The latest setback, a 27-20 loss to the Giants, was the latest punch in the gut. Dallas debuted a new quarterback, Matt Cassel, who didn’t do much to impress. He committed three turnovers.

But disaster didn’t arrive until the fourth quarter when ex-Cowboy Dwayne Harris delivered the knockout blow with a 100-yard kickoff return that crushed Dallas and sent defensive end Greg Hardy into a rage.

Jason Garrett said Monday that he won’t discipline Hardy for his outburst on the Cowboys’ sideline, writes ESPN’s Todd Archer.

It’s at least the third time Garrett has had to talk to Hardy about his actions. In the spring, Hardy wrote an insensitive tweet regarding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. On Oct. 6, he talked about returning “guns blazing” and made a comment about Gisele Bundchen, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s wife.

Hardy’s outburst on Sunday came after Dwayne Harris’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown gave the New York Giants a 27-20 lead. He swiped at a clipboard [special teams coordinator Rich] Bisaccia was holding, which led to the coach shoving him out of the huddle. Words continued as Hardy got into it with Devin Street. On the sideline he exchanged words with Dez Bryant, who was attempting to calm things down.

In the locker room after the game, Hardy offered several “no comments.”

The Giants are keeping their hopes afloat with wins, writes the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz, but the team is all smoke and mirrors.

Given the desultory winters of the past two seasons, having the Giants above .500 and in first place — even in a diminished division — should be embraced with balloons and piñatas. There is so much to critique about the Giants’ performance. Yes, their defensive line was manhandled by the top-notch Dallas offensive line – 233 rushing yards for the Cowboys, barely a hint of pressure on over-matched Matt Cassel. Yes, the Giants offensive line often was dominated by the Dallas front – two sacks and three hits on Eli Manning were too many, considering he only attempted 24 passes.

Yes, yes, yes, this is a flawed team with a fairly lackluster roster in many areas, hard to trust, especially on defense but more recently – and disturbingly – in the supposedly lethal passing game. Teams have found a way to keep Odell Beckham Jr. from wrecking the game, and there isn’t much in the way of a truly dynamic passing attack. If the Giants offense cannot find a way to score at least 24 points a game – that unit produced 13 against the Cowboys – the delicate balancing act will tumble down.

Jason Pierre-Paul has met with Giants brass, and the two sides are trying to find common ground, writes ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

Jason Pierre-Paul visited the New York Giants on Monday, a source confirmed to ESPN, and things between him and the team are progressing toward a resolution, even if no one knows what that resolution will be.

Pierre-Paul and the Giants planned to meet again this week for a medical re-check of his badly damaged right hand and to discuss contract details.

A team source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the Giants want Pierre-Paul back and that he met Monday with general manager Jerry Reese, head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive line coach Robert Nunn.

Washington’s front seven continues to underperform this year, even in a win over Tampa Bay, and the Washington Post‘s Mike Jones has taken notice.

The numbers didn’t get any prettier against the run for the defense. And the pass rush didn’t produce better results. Doug Martin had a field day.

As was the case last week, Washington’s defenders continue to hurt themselves by overpursuing. By my count, seven times a defensive lineman or linebacker ran into the backfield only to over-run the back and get caught out of position to make a tackle.

The backfield whiffs weren’t just limited to the running backs. The defenders also missed opportunities to sack Jameis Winston on five plays because they ran right by the quarterback and couldn’t slam on breaks, recover and make a play.

Kirk Cousins showed flashes of excellence against the Buccaneers, writes ESPN’s John Keim, but Washington wants consistency from its quarterback.

“You have to see results, obviously, and he’s had three wins. He’s 3-4 right now. Now you’re looking for some consistency,” [head coach Jay] Gruden said. “That position is all about consistency, but it’s all about getting better-and-better-and-better and showing us that he has the right to be a starter. I think he’s done that over the first seven games, but we still need to see more consistency from him, and everybody, for us to be where we want to be.”

Sunday showed the Redskins could win via the pass when the run game struggles — as it has in recent weeks. But that’s never been the formula the coaches want. They want to be a run-oriented team, setting up play-action and bootlegs — which, they believe, are areas of strength for Cousins. The Redskins are now 2-2 when Cousins attempts 40 or more passes, but that’s not the life they want to live.

However, some of those throws are so short, they’re considered de facto handoffs. Sunday, for example, Cousins completed 24-of-26 passes that traveled five yards or less, according to ESPN Stats & Information.