Dallas Cowboys: Why Randy Gregory is still more asset than liability

Randy Gregory #94 Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Randy Gregory #94 Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Randy Gregory almost single-handedly derailed the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, but it would be a mistake to think of him as a liability.

On a night where everything seemed to go right for the Dallas Cowboys, everything seemed to go wrong for Randy Gregory. Gregory caught the ire of Cowboys Nation when he drew three drive extending penalties against the best team in the NFL.

Roughing the punter, his most egregious of the day, directly resulted in a New Orleans Saints touchdown. At the time, it felt like a possible tipping point in an otherwise fairytale game.

If the Dallas Cowboys hadn’t had won, there may have been an outright riot demanding his release. But despite these monumental penalties, the Dallas Cowboys persevered and provided the most invigorating win in years. After stepping back, reviewing the penalties once more, and adding some “big picture” to the situation that is Randy Gregory, I can safely decree Mr. Gregory is considerably more asset than liability.

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First, the penalties. As mentioned early, the roughing the kicker penalty was the biggest stinker of all of his penalties on the afternoon. After calling “punt stay” (keeping the regular defense on the field for this particular special teams play) the Dallas Cowboys played the snap in “punt safe”, meaning they were all just supposed to go through the motions, abstain from pursuing the block, and just really prevent a fake punt.

As we all know, Randy missed the memo and went balls out, turning the corner and falling recklessly into the plant leg of the punter. It was idiotic and inexcusable (assuming the punt safe call was indeed the call) and essentially resulted in a turnover since the punt became null and void and the Saints were given the ball back 1st and 10.

But upon further review, the other penalties weren’t so bad. Obviously the result of the play and application of the penalty was bad but Randy Gregory wasn’t as careless as first thought:

Offsides (negated a strip sack allowing NO to Keep the ball

For the life of me I can’t see it. And neither an a lot of people reviewing the film. Randy did not line up in the neutral zone. You see this positioning on every team , in every game, yet never see flags for it. What makes it even worse is it didn’t appear the flag was even thrown until the strip sack of Brees unfolded.

Facemask (15 yards automatic first down)

The facemask clearly happened and clearly deserved a penalty (one could argue it was incidental but the league has been consistently enforcing even the slightest brush of the facemask  – provided they see it, of course).

Watch the play again and you’ll walk away surprised a different flag wasn’t thrown for offensive holding. The hold impacted Gregory’s final turn and impacted where his hand landed on Brees’ facemask. There should have been two flags here.

It’s also worth noting Drew Brees is only six feet tall. On most NFL QBs Randy’s hand is going disrupt their shoulder or throwing arm. On Brees it was his face. Is this an excuse? Kinda, but it helps to explain the unique circumstance of the play and that Randy wasn’t quite as reckless as first thought.

An Asset

We’ve gone over this time and time again. Randy Gregory is one of the most talented pass rushers in the NFL. Not just on the team but in the NFL. John Owning did a superb write-up on it when the season began and the only thing that’s changed is Randy has gotten better.

In recent weeks we’ve seen him give the opposition fits. On Thanksgiving he faced off against arguably the best LT in the league, Trent Williams, and Randy shinned. Now, we haven’t seen his success manifest in the stat column quite yet, but that day is fast approaching.

Over the past seven weeks Randy has four sacks, eight QB hits, and five tackles for loss. Not too shabby considering he’s only playing about 30 snaps per game in that stretch.

Randy Gregory isn’t the best run-stopper on the Dallas Cowboys, which is one of the reasons I’d like Taco Charlton to pick up more snaps. Gregory gives the Dallas Cowboys something no other player can give them at the RDE spot and it’s only a matter of time before he starts pilling up sacks (and holding calls) on a regular basis.

Next. Why the Cowboys need Taco Charlton back. dark

While critical, these mistakes are forgivable because he adds so much more to this defense than the stats indicate.

  • Published on 12/03/2018 at 13:01 PM
  • Last updated at 12/03/2018 at 12:49 PM