There have been question marks about the Dallas Cowboys defense all offseason. In 2020 the Cowboys struggled against the run, they struggled creating pass rush, and they simply struggled to stop offenses all together. Many feel the root of that issue lies at the feet of the defensive line. If you can’t create a consistent pass rush you make it harder for the defensive backs to cover, if you don’t have defensive linemen that can win at the point of attack or occupy blocks, you make things much harder for the linebacker unit. The hope is the additions of Brent Urban, Tarell Basham, and Carlos Watkins in free agency coupled with using draft resources on Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston and Quinton Bohanna, will provide depth and talent to a defense where it is much needed.
While much of the discussion has been centered around the newcomers, one should not sleep on a second-year player that showed promise late last year as his opportunities and confidence grew. Neville Gallimore, the second year pro out of the University of Oklahoma, possesses all the tools to be the main in-house solution to the Cowboys interior defensive problems.
Gallimore’s development at the back end of last season was a delight to see. A young player looking to have gained his footing as he grasped an understanding of what was asked of him as a professional, coupled with the game surely slowing down for him as he acclimated to the speed and pace of an NFL game. His game log splits seemed to indicate just that as the second half of the season progressed he began to see more playing time to the tune of eight starts and tallying 296 snaps in that span. Of course, some of the reason for that was injury to other players.
Gallimore grew into his role as so did his confidence. The young man understands the Cowboys need a high level player at the 3-technique that can be disruptive and do so at a consistent level moving forward. He may also see playing time at the 5-technique when defensive coordinator Dan Quinn calls in three-down-lineman fronts. Having that position flex and the ability to do many roles will be key for not only his longevity but for the teams overall defensive success. The Cowboys as an organization have struggled to find that player in years past and Gallimore has an opportunity to take hold of that position going forward.
The addition of Dan Quinn and a normal offseason program can’t be overstated as well. Adding Quinn as the defensive coordinator and this year’s team having a full, somewhat normal offseason will allow for Gallimore to develop and grow within this system. Gallimore was not afforded that opportunity with Mike Nolan last year and it showed as the product on the field for the defense was not good. The play became increasingly better as the year progressed for Gallimore, and it makes you wonder just how quickly he may have flashed if given a proper offseason and training camp last year.
As you look over Gallimore’s 2020 campaign, his stats will be analyzed. Many people look at the numbers to determine a players success, and many will look at the lack of sack production (.5 sack total from last season) and rightfully suggest that will need to improve. However in the same breathe he was able to produce 12 quarterback pressures and four tackles for loss. Gallimore’s presence moving forward will be graded by much more than the stat sheet. It’s going to be the things seen on film that won’t garner much statistical notation, but will be vital to the defenses success. Gallimore will need to be able to win at the point of attack, occupy space and blocks allowing for easier reads, and opportunities for his teammates around him. He will need to be committed to doing the dirty work in the interior while also providing a consistent pass rush.
The unit as a whole will look to be improved from last season, and the pieces in place give the feeling of a better year on the horizon. For Gallimore, specifically, the jump from year one to year two could be impressive. If he is able to come into camp and continue to build on his foundation, and impress the coaching staff by going through camp doing what he left off doing in OTA’s, and building on the progression he showed in the second half of 2020, the Cowboys very well could be looking at their 3-technique of the future. The Cowboys have been dying to find a playmaking 3-technique for years, they very well may have drafted him last year.
We discussed the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in depth in one of the latest episodes of our Training Camp preview series on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss out on any of our videos!