Can the Dallas Cowboys survive with Tyrone Crawford and Randy Gregory

Tyrone Crawford #98 of the Dallas Cowboys and Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Tyrone Crawford #98 of the Dallas Cowboys and Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

It appears Tyrone Crawford and Randy Gregory will be tag-teaming the right defensive end position for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. Is that a good thing?

As things stand today, the Dallas Cowboys starting right defensive end is Tyrone Crawford. With Robert Quinn drowning in money up in Chicago, and Randy Gregory still technically suspended, Craw’s the only real option right now. Now with the new CBA approved and a new-found leniency towards marijuana usage in place, we can reasonably assume Gregory will be in place by training camp.

So unless the Dallas Cowboys select a defensive end high in the upcoming draft, chances are the right defensive end spot will be a nice mix of Randy Gregory and Tyrone Crawford. Can they survive such a pairing? Luckily for us they already have so let’s take a minute and look back at the 2018 season when Gregory and Crawford were the Cowboys primary edge players on the right.

2018 Dallas Cowboys

If you remember back to 2018, Randy Gregory and Tyrone Crawford rotated snaps at RDE. On the season Gregory tallied 457 snaps while Crawford claimed 632 snaps (although some of Craw’s came inside in nickel situations). While both players are a year removed from that season, it can provide a glimpse of what life is like with a Gregory/Crawford duo at RDE.

In 2018, Tyrone Crawford logged 4 tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, 7 hurries, 5.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Crawford doesn’t win with initial burst or with a strong pass-rush win rate (he usually wins after the 2.5 second mark), but he’s a versatile tool who uses secondary pass-rush moves successfully.

Gregory was more of the Dallas Cowboys pass-rush extraordinaire. He went in on passing downs and left on traditional running downs. Much like Robert Quinn in 2019, Gregory wasn’t tasked with stopping the run much. And much like Quinn, that’s a good thing because he’s pretty bad against the run.

Gregory put up 7 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 15 QB hits, 9 hurries, and 2 forced fumbles. Which is nice. But the inescapable truth is Randy Gregory plays like a bonehead. He matches every jaw-dropping play with a complete head-scratcher.

No game highlights this more than the 2018 match-up against the New Orleans Saints. You remember that game:  Dallas was 6-5 and hanging by a thread. New Orleans was 10-1 and destined for a No. 1 seed. All Dallas did was shock the world, winning 13-10 and displaying one of their best defensive performances of the decade. It also happened to be Randy Gregory’s best and most boneheaded performance to-date.

Randy was a force to be reckoned with that evening. That stat sheet shows he had a sack, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss on just 24 defensive snaps, but the when you watch the game film, he was even more brilliant. Randy was in peak form, exploding off the line, bending around the edge, and giving New Orleans all they could handle.

He also almost lost the game for the Dallas Cowboys. Multiple times. And in some of the most boneheaded ways imaginable. Randy Gregory cancelled out a strip sack from DeMarcus Lawrence because he inexplicably lineup up offsides. He also unabashedly roughed the punter, extending a drive that resulted in a Saints TD. And he threw in a 15-yard facemask penalty for good measure.

Go back and watch the game. Gregory was like Jekyll and Hyde out there. Can we expect the same in 2020?

Probably. After a year off I think we should expect a slow start from both players (Gregory was suspended all of 2019 and Crawford only played in four games before succumbing to injury). The rust will be apparent.

And when they do get up to speed I expect to see the same reliably unflashy Tyrone Crawford on the field. He’s still only 30-years-old so I don’t think we need to worry about regression like we would have had Dallas re-signed Robert Quinn (dodged a bullet there). And for Gregory I expect to see 1 part brilliance and 1 part boneheadedness all season long. He may be 27-years-old but suspensions have kept him relatively green and inexperienced. The only way to ditch boneheadedness is through experience.

The Dallas Cowboys can survive

You probably aren’t going to find a bigger Randy Gregory fan than me. And after re-watching most of the 2018 season on All-22, I stand by my prediction that 2020 will be a career year for the 6-foot-5 end out of Nebraska. But watching the film also reminded me of those ever-present head-scratching plays. It’s unrealistically optimistic to expect all of the good and none of the bad – at least not until he gets a little more experience.

It’s comforting to know he’s going to be matched with the reliable Tyrone Crawford. Crawford takes a ton of heat for his contract, but the reality is he’s been a valuable piece to Dallas for years, and throughout most of his career he’s been the Dallas Cowboys’ second best defensive lineman.

In my last mock draft, I have K’Lavon Chaisson falling to Pick 17. I’m grabbing him and not looking back. I’m also content rolling into the 2020 season with just Gregory and Crawford. It’s nowhere near ideal but the Dallas Cowboys don’t seem willing to pay for a starting caliber free agent edge, and any bargain depth guy they may find won’t be able to beat out Craw and/or Gregory.

Should the Cowboys focus on CB this draft?. dark. Next

Is it a good thing that the Dallas Cowboys will be leaning on Tyrone Crawford and Randy Gregory to hold down the fort at right defensive end? No. Both are roughly a year removed from football and both have certain qualities and deficiencies we need to recognize. But the situation is far from dire – Unlike cornerback…

  • Published on 03/30/2020 at 11:03 AM
  • Last updated at 03/30/2020 at 11:03 AM