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Film At 11: Subject Cowboys Defensive End Randy Gregory

Taking a closer look at some of the things Randy Gregory brought to the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Gregory has been the subject of intense speculation. He has an enormous talent, but concerns over a failed drug test and his low playing weight have some people talking about his bust potential. Thursday night's game against  San Diego provided us our first look at Gregory against other competition.

Most of the reviews were positive, and looking at the specifics of his plays gives a little insight into why. Let's take a look at three plays from Gregory's first series, after his second quarter entry into the game.

Play 1

San Diego hit a quick pass to get some space after obtaining the ball deep in their territory. Here we see the Chargers in a two TE set at their own 18-yard line. Randy Gregory is playing right DE (circled in blue).

In the second shot, we can see Gregory getting the best of the TE assigned to him, while Jack Crawford (yellow arrow) is being stood up by the LT, and Damien Wilson (red circle) is moving to the hole.

Gregory wins the edge handily and stands almost alone to cut off the outside (blue circle). Unfortunately for Dallas, Crawford (red circle) has been pushed back a good bit and Wilson (hidden behind Crawford) has collided with the pulling guard in an attempt to plug the hole.

The run goes for a long gain through the gap, but Gregory completely sealed his edge and funneled the run properly. The TE assigned to block Gregory knew he got beaten badly as evidenced in his reaction pictured here.

Play 2

Some question Gregory's get off and call it inconsistent, but it should be remembered that the players are not always assigned to burst upfield (though in Marinelli's defense they often are). When Gregory was asked to get off the ball, he was impressive. Pictured here, the Chargers are in Shotgun-11 with a TE lined up inline on the right side, but standing. Dallas counters with nickel defense.

Look closely at this picture, immediately post snap. The ball has not yet made it through the center's legs. Almost nobody on the field has moved. TE John Phillips has fired out. DeMarcus Lawrence has lifted his hand. Gregory is taking his first step. Given that the entire offense knows the snap count and Dallas does not, it's extremely impressive that both of Dallas' DEs are among the first to move.

Here the ball is just arriving in the hands of QB Kellen Clemens. Gregory (circled in blue) is nearly a yard across the line of scrimmage. The WRs are just beginning to step.

Once again, Dallas is about to get gashed because this is not a pass play, but a draw. The hand-off is pictured below. But it's very clear from this picture that Gregory would be right on top of Clemens were he to keep the ball.

Play 3

The Chargers seem to have the Cowboys' number. But Dallas finds the wherewithal to get a key stop. The Chargers have 3rd and short and bring in a three TE set (with one of them lined up at FB). Gregory is once again the blue circle and at RDE, but because of the tight formation, he is one-on-one with the LG.

Here we see Gregory using his much talked about but little appreciated length as he gets both hands on the guard, arms extended very early, and keeps the blocker at bay.

Gregory has won his battle and, from the direction of the lead blocker,  they are targeting him. The Chargers saw they would get a smaller DE matched up with a big OG (#79  Kenny Wiggins is listed at 314lbs)  and thought they could win hat-on-hat. Gregory's victory leaves Damien Wilson (red circle) free to interdict wherever the RB decides to take the ball. It's worth noting that several Cowboys have won their match up, with Kyle Wilber winning through against the LT and Davon Coleman holding stout against a double team. But Gregory helps makes this stop happen, showing a lot of ability to hold fast against the run and playing stronger than we might expect from someone who will be one of the lighter defensive linemen in the league.

Gregory went on to get a sack and displayed many of the traits Dallas was seeking when they took him in the second round. While he was up against second-string performers, his play was strong and bodes well for his future in Dallas.

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