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Cowboys film review: Defensive end Randy Gregory

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With news coming out that Cowboys DE Randy Gregory had an appeal hearing, here is a breakdown on what he can add to the Dallas defense when on the field.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, any news surrounding Cowboys’ defensive end Randy Gregory has normally included words such as: suspension, bust, or failed drug test. But in recent weeks that has changed. Over the last month or two we have begin hearing whispers that Randy Gregory has made some huge changes in his life and is working to do everything in his power to get back onto the football field if reinstated by the NFL. His immediate football future is now in the hands of Roger Goodell.

Entering his fourth-year in the NFL, Gregory has only appeared in 14 games for the Dallas Cowboys and has registered just one sack. Even though he hasn’t shown it on the field, Randy Gregory can still be a key contributor to the Dallas defense with his unique ability to get after the quarterback. Let’s take a dive into some of his film from the 2016 season and see what we come away with.

Pass rush

One of Randy Gregory’s best traits is his athletic ability. On this play he puts it on full display. Off the snap, Eagles All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters tries to chop-block Gregory, but Gregory is athletic enough to absorb the block, explode off his back foot and bring Carson Wentz down in a hurry.

You will notice the burst Gregory plays with, with how quickly he gets from the ground to Wentz. This is the type of speed the Cowboys defensive line needs rushing off the weak-side.

Another underrated trait of Randy Gregory is his relentlessness as a pass rusher. In some cases, people relate off the field issues to laziness or lack of effort to be great, but that is not the case here. Gregory gives excellent effort when on the field. In this clip he doesn’t win initially, but he’s able to cross Peters face after getting off his block using his hands. Gregory is then able to mirror Carson Wentz movements and chase him to the sideline, which results in a harmless throw-away.

What Gregory does need to improve on is his plan as a rusher. Here he does a nice job of setting Peters up. Off the ball, Gregory threatens the edge with speed which makes Peters set his weight on his outside foot. Once Gregory sees Peters weight transfer he attacks the inside shoulder that knocks Peters of balance, Gregory smartly uses a spin move to gain ground on Peters and just misses the QB hit on Wentz. This is a great pass rush sequence against one of the best left tackles in football.

Run defense

When coming out of Nebraska in 2015, one of Randy Gregory’s biggest weaknesses was his ability to set a consistent edge against the run. While that still is a work in progress, Gregory was extremely impressive in his appearances in 2016 defending the run. Here he wins using pure explosion and beating the tight end and left tackle to the landmark. Gregory blew this play up before it could even get started, something Cowboys Nation saw DeMarcus Lawrence do a lot in 2017.

Again Gregory clogs a running lane by using his quickness to plug a hole before it can develop. This is a heck of a play from the 6-foot-6, 250-lb defensive end. If he can continue to make plays like this against the run he will have no problem seeing playing time from the weakside.

When left unblocked, Randy Gregory is pretty much guaranteed to make the tackle. Teams will leave defensive ends unblocked to either pull the lineman across from him, or too try and get them to rush up field and leave a large running lane. Gregory makes this play while also being in good position if the running back decides to take the ball off tackle. For being suspended for 15 straight games in 2016, Randy Gregory didn’t look like he was the least bit rusty athletically in the two games he appeared in.

In order for this dream to come to fruition, Randy Gregory must first win his appeal with the league. The second thing Gregory must do is stay clean off the field, which is something he has obviously struggled with. If Randy Gregory fails another drug test he will likely never see the playing field in the NFL again, but if he has made the life changes that multiple people are claiming he has, Randy Gregory could help this football team in a big way.