Dallas Cowboys: Randy Gregory is the best player everybody hates

Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Randy Gregory has been surging with the Dallas Cowboys as of late and could be key to the team’s playoff success – so why does everyone seem to hate the guy?

Randy Gregory had a career game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His play almost single-handedly tipped the balance, and allowed the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East with a game to spare.

Gregory’s strip-sack and fumble recovery led to 14 Dallas points. And while he did suffer some of the usual penalties that extended opponent drives, the flags were forgivable, and frankly, questionable in nature. This continues the league trend of throwing laundry at Dallas’ most suspended player.

Is it bias? Is the NFL willfully targeting No. 94?

The answer is likely “no” to both questions, but it’s hard to understand why he seems the sole beneficiary of the league’s crackdown on the defense. Aside from his “roughing the punter” a few weeks ago, most of Gregory’s penalties are suspect. It’s likely his reckless style of play is making him lose the benefit of the doubt on these 50/50 scenarios.

But the constant flags are also keeping Cowboys Nation from fully embracing the Dallas Cowboys’ most physically talented pass rusher. The 2-year forced sabbatical obviously didn’t do him any favors, but these penalties are overshadowing all he’s overcome and all he’s becoming.

The past seven games Randy Gregory has four sacks, two forced fumbles, and 10 QB hits. In that same span DeMarcus Lawrence has four sacks and 12 QB hits. Does that mean Randy’s nearly as good as Tank? Of course not, but Randy is becoming a great No. 2 pass-rusher and as a result teams won’t be able to double Tank every single passing play.

Other Game Notes:

Chidobe Awuzie has never been playing better. Dallas rarely moves their CBs to follow receivers which means the Dallas Cowboys CBs must adjust to different players (speeds, strengths, general abilities)  at a drop of the dime. Awuzie (our maligned outside corner) was brilliant in adjusting to this. Imagine playing DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and Mike Evans consecutively. Not only are they vastly different players, but they’re also arguably the best players in the entire NFL executing their respective role.

Even against the run, Awuzie was strong. On a play that never happened (negated by penalty) Dallas had roughly four missed tackles before Chido rolled in and brought Barber down. I will say it appears Awuzie got lucky on the strip sack of Jameis Winston because he let DeSean Jackson get free, but all in all, Awuzie is peaking right now.

Red zone

The Dallas Cowboys red zone troubles can’t be linked to any one thing. It’s a multitude of things. But the main item I’ve made an effort to point out is the lack of plays to the outside of the numbers. The Dallas Cowboy either predictably run up the middle, run Dak on a run/pass option (or zone read) or throw the ball on a play action (only to be dropped or missed) between the numbers on the field. Much of this is Dak’s dislike for the back shoulder pass and/or reluctance to throw a fade.

That all changed on Sunday when Dak threw a nice fade for six. Hopefully this will force opponents to respect the outside and as a result open more up inside for the Dallas Cowboys offense again. If not, hopefully Dak will feel confident enough to target the edges again.

Tight End

Can’t believe I’m saying this but Blake Jarwin is developing as a blocker. His past/present/future is as an outside and split TE so his ability to block DBs on bubble screens and outside runs is essential. Earlier in the season he was an embarrassment in all phases of blocking. Here in Week 16 he’s become a decent to good blocker in these outside responsibilities. He played an important role in Amari Cooper’s first quarter screen pass for 10 yards, he laid the key block on Dak Prescott’s TD run on the zone read, and he continued to do well when used outside and not inline pressed against the tackle.

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Speaking of tight end, did I mention Dalton Schultz? While his lack of “grown man body” has allowed him to get bullied frequently this season, he’s starting to flash like a real budding TE1. Don’t rule out him developing into that role because he’s played very well the month of December.

The Dallas Cowboys path to success is dominating the ball and keeping high powered offenses on the sideline and out of rhythm. Dallas’ offense was forced to suffer this same obstacle when after they scored their opening TD, they sat on the sideline until almost midway through the second quarter (remember the Dallas defense score a TD after a long drive then allowed TB to have a second long drive).  The result of hitting the field cold? 3 and out.

Next. Why we care about Randy Gregory so much. dark

Don’t underestimate the difficulty and impact of Dak’s throw to Michael Gallup in the first quarter. The Colts beat Dallas with greater effort and lots two-deep coverage. So it shouldn’t be surprising we saw that same coverage this week. With Dak’s deep completion to Gallup, Dallas showed what Dallas can do if you play them two-deep.  There was touch and timing. I said it before, if Dak and Gallup get on the same page – they will be a dangerous combination.

  • Published on 12/25/2018 at 12:52 PM
  • Last updated at 12/25/2018 at 13:43 PM