Time to turn to Hardy

Posted on December 7, 2009 by Patrick Moran

Big things in both a literal and figurative sense were supposedly on the horizon when the Buffalo Bills drafted James Hardy in the second round (41st overall) of the 2008 NFL draft. Red zone woes were the primary reason the Bills tabbed the six foot-five goliath over smallish receivers Eddie Royal, who went to Denver with the next selection and DeSean Jackson, going to Philadelphia eight picks later.

While Hardy was hardly a big play machine his rookie season, he did show glimpses of becoming the go-to guy near the end zone.  He only had nine receptions in 2008, but two went for touchdowns, including the game winner late at Jacksonville in week two.  Unfortunately his season ended prematurely with a nasty ACL knee injury late in the season against the New York Jets.

The injury took him nearly 10 months to fully recover from.  Buffalo placed him in the Psychically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season and he didn‘t return until late October.  But despite a clean bill of health and working out with the team at full speed since, the only place Hardy’s been seen on Sundays is the press box.  He’s been inactive every game since coming back.

At 4-8 with the season lost and a realistic possibility of at least two current wide receivers departing, it’s time for that to change.  Every ounce of logic that still drips within the Bills organization leads towards playing Hardy extensively over the final month.

Buffalo Bills’ wide receivers have 100 receptions on the season.  Terrell Owens, Lee Evans and Josh Reed have accounted for 97 of them.  Talk about a lack of depth.  After the trio, Stevie Johnson has two receptions and Roscoe Parrish one.

For whatever reason, none more prominent than Dick Jauron coaching for his job before ultimately losing it, and now Perry Fewell trying to do the same, Bills youngsters, even the highly drafted ones have taken a back seat on Sundays to veterans.  Chris Ellis, a third rounder last year rarely sees the field and Hardy hasn’t at all.

Hardy could start in 2010- by default. Owens and  Reed are both scheduled to be free agents after the season.  It’s almost certain Owens won’t be back and Reed’s return is anything but a lock.  By default, that would leave Hardy as the starter alongside Lee Evans.  Buffalo already has major holes to fill at left tackle, outside linebacker and possibly quarterback and defensive tackle.  The last thing the team  wants or can afford is to throw significant free agent money around at receiver.  They also don’t have the luxury of drafting one early; not if any potential new administration learns from the old one’s mistakes.

Although Hardy hasn’t played a down this year, he hasn‘t avoided  controversy.  In an October story largely swept under the rug but reported here, Hardy’s rapper girlfriend Toya Carter twitted an insinuation that Hardy bought her a gun as a birthday gift.  Popular urban website Media Takeout.com reported it and upon finding out, Hardy adamantly denied the gun gift-giving.  Soon after our story was published, Carter took down her tweet and the Media Takeout website printed a retraction with Hardy’s denial.  While whether the initial story was true or not carried no legal ramifications, it was a black eye for a young man’s who’s already had his fill of legal troubles.

While the alleged gun story certainly has nothing to do with the organization not playing him, perhaps that and/or other off-field issues have prevented Hardy from impressing enough at practice enough to warrant a spot on Sundays.

We do know that Hardy is fairly well embedded into the hip hop community.  He’s had or has a celebrity girlfriend, and is a popular aspiring model. Some critics think he’s more interested in being in photos shoots and rap videos than running extra routes before and after practice.

To assume anything at this point is pure speculation, and amateurishly at that. All we know for sure is Hardy’s been a healthy scratch for nearly a month running.

Playing all the young guys seems logical to most, but in Perry’s Fewell case it could mean head coaching suicide.  While the Buffalo Bills as an organization should be looking to the future, Fewell doesn’t have that luxury.  The reason is because he very well may not be here in 2010.  If Bryan Scott can give him more production over Nic Harris, even for just that game- you’ll see Scott continue to start at linebacker.

It’s a large reason you’re unlikely to see Brian Brohm or Chris Ellis this year; they don’t necessarily give the Bills a better chance to win that week, at least not in Fewell’s eyes.

But at some point, and soon, they need to start finding out how good Hardy can be.  While little guys Royal and Jackson continue to flourish with their respective teams, our now healthy big man is simply rotting away.

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4 Comments on Time to turn to Hardy

  1. realdealryan

    J Hardy was excited to hear that my wife and I had been watching him throughout college (here in Indiana, my wife a graduate of IU) and we expect big things from him. He doesn’t have the natural ability of a Randy Moss, but under the correct tutelage Hardy will succeed in a big way. It’s unfortunate that Reed won’t coach or that we can’t get Lofton or another solid WR coach. The physical tools are there; we’re waiting for the timing to take place.

  2. Time to turn to Hardy : Buffalo Sports Daily | NFL Tickets News

    [...] Read more: Time to turn to Hardy : Buffalo Sports Daily [...]

  3. Web Rumblings: Buffalo Bills Links, 12/8 | Buffalo Bills Blog

    [...] Time to turn to Hardy : Buffalo Sports DailyPat Moran says it’s time to give James Hardy a look even if “head coaching suicide” for Perry Fewell. [...]

  4. josh

    We need to lay the smack down on Perry Fewell, the worst D coordinator the bills have consistantly had over a 4 year period the guy is brutal, he still thinks the Jets gained 700 yds against us on 4 running plays. We need as fans to play the youngsters, This is for the BUFFALO BILLS, not Perry Fewell’s resume.

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