Why the Dallas Cowboys need Taco Charlton back

Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Taco Charlton has been ruled ‘out’ three weeks and counting and contrary to popular belief, his absence is negatively impacting the Dallas Cowboys pass rush. Just not in the way you may think…

Taco Charlton, the Dallas Cowboys second-year defensive end out of Michigan, has missed the past three weeks of football. But Taco returned to practice yesterday and he should be cleared to play in the upcoming “measuring stick game” against the NFC leading New Orleans Saints.

While many may read that and think, “whoopty frickin doo”, his absence may actually be more significant than you think. No, I’m not here to tell you Taco is a misunderstood playmaker or a budding star being held back from things out of his control. Nope.

I’m not here to tell you he wasn’t a mistake of a pick either. After all, I was advocating T.J. Watt before it was even cool to talk about that eventual Cowboys draftnik fan favorite. Let’s forget for a moment how disappointing Taco has been in his admittedly short NFL career and instead focus on the very important role he plays – spelling Randy Gregory

It’s all about Randy Gregory

You see, this is all about Randy Gregory. In much the same way a baseball team uses underwhelming pitchers to fill in the gaps and protect the pitch count of others, Taco Charlton serves as a way of reducing snap counts for the talented Randy Gregory.

Gregory is a player who’s playing as well as he’s ever played. Matchup up against Trent Williams (arguably the best LT in the game), Gregory shinned. But he also fatigued. You see, right now Randy is a guy who does more with less. The more snaps he takes the less energy he has to give play to play. It’s not his fault – it’s a natural reaction to overuse and fatigue.

Remember Gregory came into this season coming off a significantly long involuntary sabbatical. While some of us saw a huge 2018 season awaiting the oft-suspended edge-rusher, many around the NFL wondered if he could even get back onto the field after roughly two seasons away. As is often the case, reality resides somewhere in the middle. Randy Gregory is a supremely talented pass-rusher on the verge of breaking out. AND Gregory’s a transitioning player taking on the massive task of breaking into a league after a significant amount of time away.

That’s why he needs a “pitch count”.

Nobody on this team can rush a passer like Gregory. Not even DeMarcus Lawrence. That’s not to say Randy’s better than Tank. Of course not. But Randy has the kind of physical ability rarely seen in this world. If he can explode off the line at 100 percent, he’s a force to be reckoned with. The problem is, he’s not always 100 percent when forced to play Taco’s snaps.

More from Dallas Cowboys

Gregory has been beat up over the course of the season, and while he’s getting better by the week, he’s also getting more beat up by the week. Since Taco Charlton left in Week 9, Gregory’s snaps have gone from 25 snaps per game to over 36 snaps per game.

Watching the film you can see plays where Gregory looks absolutely dominant and plays where he completely mails it in and just goes through the motions. Utilizing Randy Gregory to his fullest isn’t about using him as much as possible, but rather keeping him as fresh as possible for when the Dallas Cowboys really need him.

When Taco Charlton returns, he doesn’t need to take over for Gregory, but he needs to pick up part of the load. Specifically on non-passing downs. If we can get Gregory back to his 25 snaps per game average, we’ll likely see greater returns. That’s because Gregory won’t be conserving energy or taking on needless wear and tear.

dark. Next. The Cowboys' secondary is in peak form

Call it all a backhanded compliment but Taco Charlton’s return is important because he takes on some of the wear and tear that Randy Gregory now seems to be getting. Keeping Randy rested and healthy for passing downs doesn’t just help in games now, but it will help in the playoffs when the Dallas Cowboys really need him.

  • Published on 11/27/2018 at 13:11 PM
  • Last updated at 11/27/2018 at 13:11 PM