By TJ Troup
|Jim Hardy versus the Detroit Lions. Colorization by John Turney|
Adam Walsh and the his defending champions struggled during the 1946 season. Bob Waterfield was entrenched as quarterback; and Hardy had completed only 2 of his first 13 pass attempts through the first three games. Hardy played well in the 35-14 win over Detroit and threw the first touchdown pass of his career. He also completed the longest Ram pass of the year (60 yards to Red Hickey). Since this was still a two platoon era, Jim played some defensive back (intercepted against the Lions in November), did some
Bob Snyder took the reigns in 1947 and again Hardy played sparingly the first seven weeks as he attempted only 9 passes. Jim had a fine game in the loss to the Bears, and followed up that performance with his best game of the year against Detroit on November 23rd.
Hardy completed 4 of 6 for 65 yards and 2 touchdowns. Owner Dan Reeves made another coaching change
Hardy then directs the Rams 69 yards down the field for the winning score. On the drive he completed 5 of 6 for 63 yards as the winning touchdown comes with just 55 seconds left. The next week
The rest of the season Hardy and Waterfield share the position as Los Angeles finishes strong. Los Angeles again revamped their roster, and Hardy left the Rams, and joined the Cardinals. The Cardinals have been in back to back championship games, but the coach who took them there (Jimmy Conzelman) had retired. Chicago attempts to use co-coaches in Phil Handler & Buddy Parker, but halfway through the campaign Parker becomes the head coach.
Though the Cardinals played some fine football in '49 they are not as strong a team as the two previous years. Hardy shares the position with Paul Christman. The Cardinals have a record of 2-3 when they head out on the road to take on the Lions and New York Bulldogs. Chicago scores 107 points the back to back victories, and Jim contributes with 290 yards passing and 5 touchdown tosses. The Rams are trying to hold off the fast closing Bears in the western conference race and in one of the most exciting games of the year the Cardinals tie Los Angeles 28 all. Hardy throws 2 touchdown passes against his former team, and plays brilliantly in 41-21 win over Green Bay as he again throws 2 touchdown passes out of just 11 attempts.
When he falters in the Coliseum against the Rams in December he is benched for the season finale against the Bears. He is an interested bystander as he watches Johnny Lujack shred the Cardinal secondary for 468 yards. The NFL undergoes some changes as a new decade begins with the absorption of three teams from the AAFC, and the free substitution rule adopted for another season
Opening day Hardy sets the dubious record of throwing 8 interceptions in the 45-7 loss to the defending champion Eagles. Jim rebounds and torches the Colts on a Monday night at Comiskey Park as he completes 13 passes for 281 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Film study shows his synergy with Bob Shaw at an elite level as time and again they connect for scores. Hardy struggles the next two weeks in back to back losses, and during the middle of the year he shares the position with Frank Tripucka. Hardy is back in form late in the year as he directs a Cardinal victory over the
Johnny Lujack in the main quarterback with the Bears at this time, and since both are still alive, and both earn Pro Bowl berths
The highlight of the 1951 season for Hardy is his 80 yard touchdown pass in the Coliseum against the Rams in a losing cause. Buddy Parker is building a championship contender in Detroit and needs a back-up quarterback for Bobby Layne in 1952. Since he has knowledge of Hardy's skills; Jim joins a champion in his final year in the NFL.
There are statistics that truly tell a story and are useful in evaluating a player. The passer rating system is a tool for evaluating a quarterback's efficiency. Hardy's passer rating for his seven-year career is 53.1, but we need to take a much closer look at what he did when he threw the ball. Jim Hardy's passer rating in the games his team won in his career was a sterling 78.7, but in the games he lost he was a dismal 35.9. When Jim Hardy was good, he was