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Cowboys game ball: Rookie Michael Gallup is starting to elevate his game

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The young wide receiver is starting to become a deep threat for the Cowboys.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A heart-breaking loss to a division rival that blunts the momentum from a huge win the previous week makes handing out a game ball tough. The Cowboys had their opportunities against Washington but failed to take advantage. Still, we always need to look to the future, and one player seems to be showing signs that his future will be bright. It’s taken some time, and his volume stats are not there yet (more on that in a bit), but he’s starting to give the Cowboys a true deep-threat option. Michael Gallup could be evolving into a playmaker for the Cowboys.

Last week against the Jaguars, Gallup had one catch for 27 yards, and just missed out on a second catch that would have been a touchdown if he could have gotten his second foot down instead of bouncing it on top of his other foot. The catch he did have in the Jacksonville game showed his ability to elevate and catch a ball in traffic. That was reminiscent of what Dez Bryant used to do for the team when he was in his prime. When Gallup has one-on-one coverage, Dak Prescott should think more about trusting Gallup to make the play even if there is coverage.

Against Washington, Gallup had three catches for 81 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown where he absolutely cooked the defender on a stop-start move.

The problem for Dallas is that Dak Prescott doesn’t seem to trust his throws to Gallup enough. Through seven games, Prescott has only targeted Gallup 22 times, about three times a game even though on 10 catches Gallup has averaged 19 yards per catch. Granted, there have been a couple of balls Gallup could have caught that he didn’t, but still, right now he appears to be the Cowboys one big-play threat in the passing game, especially with Tavon Austin sidelined.

Prescott did look Gallup’s way five times in the Washington game, so they are starting to build some trust. But Prescott could have avoided his one huge error in the Washington game, and made Gallup’s day monstrous if he would have just trusted his arm and Gallup’s ability.

The play we’re talking about is Prescott’s fumble in the end zone when he was was sacked. The play turned into a Washington touchdown, but it could have just as easily been a Cowboys touchdown. During a chat session some of the BTB writers were having during the game, I wrote these words right after that play was complete: “you guys are gonna cry wehn you see Gallup’s route on that play, 6 points if Dak sees him.” (Yes, I know I misspelled “when” in the chat).

Here’s the full play:

And here is what Prescott was seeing as he gets to the back of his drop on the play.

The blue lines represent Dak’s field of vision based on where his head is pointed, he has Gallup right in his sights (black circle) and he knows the pattern Gallup is running is a fake to the outside then going straight upfield. He should recognize that the cornerback is in a terrible position for this play. Prescott has to recognize he’s got what he wants here and get ready to fire. The other Washington defenders are not in place to help on the play. The up defender (yellow circle) will never be able to get back in time to help, in fact he never tries. The deep safety (red circle) is just too far over to effectively make a play on a well thrown ball to Gallup.

Here’s what we see a second later.

Prescott is still looking at that side of the field (blue lines). He has to see that the up defender (yellow circle) can’t make a play, and the deep safety (red circle) is still sitting in the middle of the field. In the black circle, Gallup has made his move and the corner is toast, he’s actually reaching out in a feeble attempt to grab Gallup and slow him down. If Prescott had fired this ball on time, Gallup likely takes it to the house. If somehow the safety makes a saving tackle on him, the Cowboys still convert the third down and are on their way to a score.

Michael Gallup is starting to show his ability to be a playmaker for Dallas. The coaching staff needs to recognize that and try to scheme him into as many one-on-one situations as they can. And Dak Prescott needs to recognize it, and trust himself and the receiver. If the Cowboys are looking for someone to stretch defenses vertically, they should start looking to Gallup more often.