There wasn’t much to brag about on the defensive side of the ball for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. They finished 31st against the run and 23rd in overall defense. The 473 points they allowed (29.6 per game) were the most in franchise history, while also yielding the second-most yards ever in a season (6,183).
Although the defense as a whole was putrid, to say the least, there was a bright spot on the defensive line. Randy Gregory, who missed the entire 2019 season, was conditionally reinstated in September. He would have to miss the first six games, but once he hit the field, he reminded the football world just how talented he is.
Gregory’s first game action came in Week 7 against the Washington Football Team, but he only logged six snaps. Over the next two games, Gregory was on the field for 71 plays as he started to get his football legs under him, and he led the team with five quarterback pressures in Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys then faced division rival Washington on Thanksgiving two weeks later, and Gregory was lights out.
The former second-round pick would register his first sack since December of 2018, and it was also his time recording multiple sacks in a game in his career. After nearly two years away from the gridiron, Gregory was pleased with where he was at that particular moment in his return.
“It felt good,” Gregory said, per the team’s website. “It’d feel a lot better obviously if we got the win, but it felt good to go out there and display some of my athleticism and some of the stuff I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’m glad I got a chance to go out there and do that, and I know there’s ways I can help this team and that’s one of the ways.”
Gregory would save his best performance of the season for another division rival in Week 16, the Philadelphia Eagles. He finished with six tackles and 1.5 sacks, and also became the first Cowboys defender since David Irving to force three fumbles in one game.
“Yeah, it was one of my better games,” Gregory said. “I think for the average viewer, they get stuck on the stats, so I think I showed up there on the box score and it makes a lot of people happy. Me along with a lot of other guys, we’re never satisfied in our work. There’s still more to do, still more to get better at, and that’s what we’ll do this upcoming week to prepare for the Giants.”
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory was dominant yesterday. Here are a few of his best plays from Week 16: pic.twitter.com/AM3jK7kB3O
The Cowboys season would end a week later after falling to the New York Giants. However, Gregory proved that even after spending significant time away from the field that he’s still one of the more naturally gifted pass rushers in the NFL, and validated the one-year extension he received back in September.
Gregory has gotten his life together off of the field and it paid immediate dividends in 2020. Now, the focus will be getting him to play a full uninterrupted season for the first time and continue to maximize his talent.