Dallas Cowboys: 3 comprehensive steps to rebuild the defense

Gerald McCoy, DT, Free Agent Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Gerald McCoy, DT, Free Agent Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Randy Gregory, DE, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

How to finish the 2020 season?

The team released DT Dontari Poe, CB Daryl Worley, and CB Brandon Carr and traded DT Everson Griffen. With the two defensive linemen leaving, it opened up a spot for the return DE Randy Gregory and DT Neville Gallimore. Both players saw a consistent spike in play time since their week 10 battle against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I also point these two players out specifically because turnover across defensive linemen seems to be higher than at other defensive positions. You, as a fan, whether you like it or not expect CB Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, and CJ Goodwin back on the team next season in some capacity. How many of the current defensive linemen can you make a reasonable case for? DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Trysten Hill, and Neville Gallimore are the only sure bets.

Not always does a spike in playtime lead to a bigger impact or more production (*cough* Trysten Hill *cough*) but in the case with these two there is a serious positive trend when watching the both of them play. Gregory’s impact is so clearly seen on the box score while Gallimore’s is seen far more on game tape. (This isn’t to say Gregory’s impact doesn’t show up on game film, it’s just very tangible from the box score alone)

While all these clips were from one game, and not even a game they won, a lot of these things I pointed out were consistent throughout the Minnesota and Washington games. Randy Gregory is an absolute freak of an athlete and it shows with his very good lateral quickness and good upfield burst that allow him to get home on DE-DT stunts and counter moves. He can also use his long arms and speed to power turnover in order to fight tackles off their anchor.

Neville Gallimore is a bit more densely packed for a defensive tackle but it allows him to maintain his gap discipline in run support because he displays good body control, good grip strength, and generally solid hand placement. Both these guys have become incremental parts of the defense’s progress over the last few weeks and should continue trending up with a full offseason heading into the 2021 season. Unfortunately, these traits aren’t favorable when pass rushing but if he gets more consistent with his bull rushes, the team could have some fun with them.

With Tyrone Crawford and Antwaun Woods both on expiring deals and Dorance Armstrong who’s on the third year of his four-year contract, the team will be looking at who is worth bringing back. Good chance the team moves on from Crawford as he just isn’t a fit for Mike Nolan’s defensive scheme and Woods’ time is also up in the air with the potential of him getting more money elsewhere.

What this should result in is Bradlee Anae also getting more snaps but unfortunately, we can’t control anything so we are currently stuck with Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore until the season’s end. (It’s not really a bad consolation prize after that’s all said and done.