It’s been a long journey for Defensive End Randy Gregory to make his way back to the field for the Dallas Cowboys. After an indefinite suspension that forced him to miss the entire 2019 season, Gregory was conditionally reinstated on September 4 and signed a one-year contract extension on September 8 that will pay him up to $2.1 million in 2021.
Gregory would have to sit the first six games of the season. After only six snaps in Week 7, he’s played at least 42% of the team’s defensive plays in three of the last four games. It all came together Thursday against the Washington Football Team as the former second-round pick had the first multi-sack game of his career.
The first of Gregory’s sacks came on the first possession of the game. He runs an inside stunt and gets around the right guard and brings down Alex Smith for a seven-yard loss on 3rd and 7 after he was forced to step up due to pressure from DeMarcus Lawrence. For a brief moment, it seemed as if that may have been Gregory’s only impact on the game after he went down to a knee and grabbed his head before heading to the blue medical tent for further evaluation. It turned out that he got poked in the eye and returned shortly after.
Randy Gregory with the sack. DeMarcus Lawrence helping out.(via @nflmx) pic.twitter.com/cTskxFar2U
His second sack came with about five minutes left in the first half.
Gregory may not have recorded his first sack of the season until Thursday but he’s shown flashes of the edge rusher that was so sought after in the 2015 NFL Draft. In Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gregory’s five pressures led the entire defense. Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, he completely bullied Left Tackle Riley Reiff after he started upfield to utilize his speed and then turned it into a bull rush move to get pressure on Kirk Cousins. He would record nearly half (3) of his seven quarterback hits on the season against the Vikings.
Randy Gregory was shot out of a damn cannon off the LOS. Sells speed then throws on the brakes & hits an inside club-arm over off a subtle stutter-step to put a big hit on Ben Roethlisberger. Love it. #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/gXbYpgbXj9
Look at Randy Gregory EJECT Riley Reiff on a speed-to-power stutter-bull rush to generate pressure and get a hit on Kirk Cousins. Been telling y’all that despite his speed, Randy G has been most effective on speed-to-power and inside moves. Here’s yet another example. #Cowboys. pic.twitter.com/2MtFuAJej3
Gregory felt good about his performance despite the team not picking up the win.
“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.”
Since Week 7 (his first game), Randy Gregory ranks 2nd in pass-rush productivity (11.4) among EDGEs with at least 35 pass-rush snaps, as he’s accumulated 14 pressures & 2 sacks in 70 PR snaps, per PFF.Safe to say Randy G has exceeded expectations since his return. #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/behbtza46U
Gregory has been one of the few bright spots since his return even though the team only has a 1-4 record over that span. However, he provides more pressure from the perimeter along with Aldon Smith opposite Lawrence which gives the Cowboys defense a formidable group to get after the quarterback.