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Tale Of The Tape: Greg Hardy, Part II

The final in a two part series examining Greg Hardy's game tape against Seattle in 2013.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier we looked at eight plays that highlighted Greg Hardy's versatility, technique, and hand fighting. Let's continue the study and look at Hardy's second half against Seattle.

Play 9:

Hardy lined up at defensive end.

This is something that we've seen a few times, Hardy using an inside move with his pass rush. Now I'm not sure if he has actually thrown the TE off, or if the TE was just supposed to chip block and release.

Either way, the TE ends up completely off-balance and stumbling (red circle). Meanwhile it appears that Hardy is about to engage with the tackle. Pay attention to the spacing here, Hardy is right on top of the tackle.

Until suddenly he isn't. Hardy uses a kind of variation of the stutter step we documented earlier to get separation from the tackle, and you can see his arm going up, he's going to use that separation to set up a pass rush move.

Play 10:

Hardy playing the strong-side defensive end position.

The Seahawks are running a variation of the stretch play that Dallas used so much last season. The key is that 75 and 77 need to double-team and kick out Hardy, before moving on to the second level.

75 somehow completely misses on his block, and Hardy holds his spot and sets the edge. This means that the lane Lynch was looking for is gone (red arrow), and he might have to bounce it back inside (dashed red arrow). You can see the linebacker at the top middle of the screen recognize this.

Hardy sheds his block and is in good position to make a play on Lynch in the backfield.

Hardy misses the tackle however. In fairness it's hard to make a tackle when you have an offensive lineman jumping on your back.

Play 11:

Again Hardy is playing the strong-side end.

Seattle runs a soft double-team on Hardy. The guard fully engages in the block while the tackle is keeping tabs on him (you can see him putting an arm out to maintain contact, red circle), while watching the linebacker on the edge.

It looks like Hardy is going to be stonewalled on the play. Also notice the play-fake, and how it's pulling in the middle linebacker.

This is a great example of Hardy's instincts. Seattle is running play-action with a bootleg back away from the playside. All of the linebackers have been sucked in, and you can see that all of the defensive linemen are effectively blocked. But look at Greg Hardy (yellow circle). We see his back, because he has recognized the play-fake and is spinning away from the block. He is the only defensive player to get off his block.

Play 12:

Here we see another "Nascar" style package from Carolina with Greg Hardy as one of two 3-techs.

Pre-snap Hardy shifts inside to the one-tech position.

We can see that Hardy draws the double team, (and the attention of a possible third blocker with Lynch).

Because the guard is occupied with Hardy (yellow circle) he's unable to give help to the tackle who gets beaten by the defensive end (red circle).

The defensive end flushes Wilson out of the pocket, and who is there to make the stop? Greg Hardy.

Play 13:

Hardy, lined up at the 1-tech position.

Strong double-team by Seattle. Two things to notice here. Fist and most important, the yard marker (red line). Second notice that Seattle is again running a play-action.

Hardy isn't anchoring this double-team. He's effectively walking it backwards. He's almost pushed the double-team into the running back who is going out into a pattern.

Hardy has pushed the double-team back to where Wilson originally received the shotgun snap (about five yards). Incredible show of strength here.

I mentioned earlier that even when bear rushing Hardy is attempting to "turn" the offensive lineman by attacking his shoulder. Here he's done that to the guard, while fighting off a double-team. Not only does this give him a lane to the QB, it effectively uses the center to box out the guard, eliminating the double-team.

Play 14:

Here we see Hardy back at his normal WDE position.

Hardy engages the tackle who gets a really good initial punch.

Again, we see Hardy using his hands to disengage from the blocker and reset.

Hardy re-engages and is doing a decent job of bull-rushing, pushing the tackle back towards Wilson.

I love this. Most edge rushers instinctively try to go over the top and around the edge (red arrow). The tackle is expecting this and sets up appropriately, but Hardy instead works back underneath with a rip move (yellow arrow). Just a savvy veteran play. Hardy pressures Wilson who has to rush the pass.

Play 15:

Hardy, at his normal WDE spot.

I talked about it earlier, but here is another example, when Hardy sees the run he's incredibly fast to flatten out his rush. Here he's left unblocked, and it looks like a run away from his side, with the fullback coming back to seal him off from pursuit (red circle/arrow).

But it's not a run to the strong side, it's actually a counter with Lynch cutting back weakside. That means it's imperative the fullback block out Hardy, who lowers his head and meets the fullback head on (yellow circle).

Hardy wins his collision with the fullback, but is off balance falling forward. Still, this causes Lynch to have to dance in the backfield.

Lynch avoids Hardy's attempted tackle, but has been held up enough that his blocking has broken down. Notice where the play is in relation to both the NFL shield logo and the hashmarks (red line). Also notice that Hardy is now lying flat on the ground.

Because of the breakdown in blocking Lynch has to reverse field. You can see that neither the hashmarks or the shield are visible. But Hardy is, he's still on the ground but has grabbed onto Lynch.

And here Hardy is, taking Lynch down for no gain. Just a great example of hustle and motor from Hardy.

The Takeaway:

  • There are a few things to take away from this film study. The first is hard to show in still clips, but it's just how violent Hardy is. It has been a long time we've had a player who plays as violently as Hardy. DeMarcus Ware was just as explosive, but he had a smoothness to his game, like a cat. Hardy looks more like a bear on the field. It's striking to watch.
  • Versatility: Hardy can, quite literally, play anywhere on the defensive line, from weakside defensive end to one-tech. That's going to give Marinelli a ton of options next season.
  • Technique. I was amazed by how much Hardy relied on technique and hand fighting. I wasn't familiar with him, but based on reputation, I expected someone who just overpowered the opposition. That's not the case, Hardy has a very impressive array of pass rush moves at his disposal.
  • Motor. Hardy played 60 snaps in this game, and was going just as hard at the end as he was in the first quarter. I saw him give up on exactly one play, a dump off pass near the end of the first quarter. Besides that he was going non-stop the entire game.
  • Tackling: Advanced stats show that Hardy is a good run defender, (4th in the league in 2013, right behind DeMarcus Ware). But he had issues tackling in this game. He was often in position, but had problems wrapping up.

Well there you are BTBer's. Hardy certainly looks like the real deal, a certified pass rush master who can play anywhere on the line, beat double-teams, and play the run. If the year off hasn't affected him too much, it looks like Dallas has acquired a blue-chip talent in his prime, which bodes well for the 2015 season. What say you?

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