Over the past two seasons, the Dallas Cowboys defense has amassed a whopping 59 total sacks. For perspective, the 2014 Buffalo Bills had 54 sacks on their own, and the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl 50 winning pass rush had 52.
The need to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been evident in Dallas for a long time, and their most recent big investment toward fixing this has already turned himself into an unstable question mark for 2016.
Randy Gregory was the Cowboys' second round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. The front office put a lot of trust in the troubled pass rushing product out of Nebraska, and are now facing the reality of playing without Randy Gregory for the first four games of 2016 after another failed drug test led to his suspension.
While Randy Gregory's offseason was incredibly disappointing, it spurted from a 2015 season that was equally as frustrating on the field for the rookie. In his regular season debut against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium, Gregory dipped around Ereck Flowers off the right edge consistently before having his night cut short with a high ankle sprain.
Randy Gregory's injury only sidelined him for 4 games officially, but it would all but put an end to his 2015 campaign. With so much of his talent being based on his bend around the edge, his banged up ankle held him back to the tune of 0 sacks and 11 tackles in 12 games.
Looking ahead to 2016, Randy Gregory's role is tough to define. The Cowboys defensive line will also be playing without DeMarcus Lawrence for the first month of the season, so Rod Marinelli is going to get a close look at a slew of edge rushers that could still eat into Gregory's snaps by week 5.
While there is little doubt that Randy Gregory will get his snaps in the defensive end rotation, players like Jack Crawford, David Irving, Benson Mayowa, and rookie Charles Tapper could all prove more consistent, both against the pass and the run over at RDE for the Cowboys.
Cowboys Nation should be tired of hearing about QB pressures and hurries, and settle only for players that are going to sack the likes of Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins. At his absolute best, Randy Gregory can be this player for the Dallas Cowboys, capable of becoming the biggest match-up nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators on this entire defense.
If the Cowboys are going to do more than win the NFC East in 2016, and make some noise in the playoffs after doing so, they will need a determined Randy Gregory on the defensive line. An inspired Randy Gregory playing down the line from the up-and-coming DeMarcus Lawrence, with the two collectively playing outside of Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton, could turn the Cowboys defensive line into a unit that provides far better production than expected.
What are your expectations for Randy Gregory this season?
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