The Dallas Cowboys defense has been the worst defense in the NFL through the first five weeks of the season and it's not even close. There appears to be a light on the horizon though as the Cowboys got Anthony Brown back last week, appear to be getting Leighton Vander Esch back this week, Chidobe Awuzie should return soon, and next week marks the return of Defensive End Randy Gregory.
Time heals all wounds.
Gregory's return couldn't come sooner as the Cowboys will need all hands on deck for the final 11 games if they hope to salvage what has been a disappointing start to the 2020 season. According to Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, the pass rusher has been “lights out” and “looks better than I've ever seen him.”
Ezekiel Elliott said Randy Gregory was “lights out” in practice today. “It was really tough to block him. I'm excited to get Randy back. He's got those fresh legs and he looks better than I've ever seen him.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 15, 2020
Those are strong words, considering Ezekiel Elliott has seen a lot of Randy Gregory over the years. There have been reports that Gregory has improved his size and strength in preparation for his return. When Gregory last played he came in around 250 pounds, not small by any stretch, but generally lighter than most defensive ends in a four-man front.
The last time Gregory saw an extended amount of game action was in 2018 when he had six sacks in 14 games, helping the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs.
Though DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith are playing well, there should be a role for Gregory when he returns in week seven against the Washington Football Team. Veteran Everson Griffen hasn't provided the spark many thought he would when he was signed as a free agent this Summer. Perhaps Gregory will be that spark.
If the Cowboys can get the player we saw back in 2018, it could help propel their defense to another level. Gregory's return would allow the Cowboys to use Aldon Smith and Everson Griffen on the inside on obvious pass-rushing downs and it could force Griffen into a more specialist role.
After the loss of Quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys defense will need to be better over the rest of the 2020 season for the Cowboys to have much of a chance at anything other than an early exit from the postseason. Randy Gregory's presence and play should provide a spark that could help everyone from the front four to the linebacker group and the defensive backs as well.
There is still a lot that can be accomplished in 2020, but it's going to require getting all of your defensive pieces back and healthy and them coming together to provide much better play as a group.