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Cowboys at Cardinals: Michael Gallup needs to arrive in Week 3

Through two weeks, Michael Gallup hasn’t been much of a factor, with some of that not being his fault. But the time is now to emerge once again.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After two dominant performances to start the season, the Dallas Cowboys head into Week 3 2-0 and looking like the best team in the NFL. While it is still early, it does not change the facts of the matter, and the fact is the Cowboys are playing outstanding football in all three phases. They look like serious Super Bowl contenders for the first time in a long time.

With eyes toward the future, the Cowboys now must switch focus to Week 3 as the Cowboys head west for a matchup with an Arizona Cardinals team that is heading in a completely different direction. The NFL can be a funny league, at times as the old adage “Any given Sunday” is real, and while this would be a tremendous collapse of a loss, the Cardinals get paid and have pride too. The Cowboys must head to the desert with a “take care of business” mindset or they may face the consequences.

There are so many players playing at a high level for the Cowboys right now that it is hard to sift through it all and find something that is not working for them. However, right now that thing is Michael Gallup and the Cowboys need more from the wideout on Sunday. While some of it is not his fault, Week 3 feels like an important measuring stick game for Gallup if we are ever going to see the younger version of himself that Dak knows and trusts.

Let’s take a closer look at Michael Gallup and his Week 3 opportunity in our “Player Spotlight.”

Week 3 player spotlight

Michael Gallup

NFL: New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Through two weeks, Gallup has two receptions for 13 yards on four targets. The bottom line is Gallup is not only not productive right now, but he isn’t even really getting looks his way from Dak Prescott . There are various reasons for this and we’ll take a closer look at the troubling trend, while also giving optimism as to why it can all change starting this week.

Week 1 versus the Giants was a great game for the franchise, but not necessarily a great statistical game for the offense. Dak finished with 143 passing yards and 54.2 completion percentage, pedestrian numbers for anyone, not just Dak, but the game simply did not call for any more than that.

When you look at the entire big picture, and not just the box score, you can see there were a few reasons for the lack of production. For starters, the Cowboys went up big, early, and never looked back. The team would go up 33-0 after the first drive out of the halftime break and put the game in cruise control. The offense was needed sparingly as both the defensive and special team units would score touchdowns that evening, rendering the offense to a complementary role that did not require much lifting at all.

Tough to look at Gallup and his one catch for 13 yards on the day and say “We needed more” or that it was even really disappointing. The night just didn’t call for it and sometimes it’s just like that for a player. Fast forward to Week 2 however, and the absence of Brandin Cooks due to hamstring injury loomed large and looked like the first real chance for Gallup to get loose as he slid to the WR2 role. While on paper it sounds good, the Cowboys did Gallup no favors on Sunday for the greater good of the team.

The New York Jets star cornerback Sauce Gardner is a one-side cornerback. This means he generally does not travel with star wide receivers and sticks to his side no matter who is lined up across from him, and the Cowboys knew and exploited that for most of the afternoon. CeeDee Lamb would often times line up away from Gardner in favor of the Jets number two cornerback or slot corner simply to take advantage of the lack of adjustment and to eat off of an inferior player. 11 receptions for 143 yards and a 30-10 victory later and it looks like an excellent move by the Cowboys.

However, as a result of that strategy, Gallup acted as the sacrificial “Lamb” on Sunday as he would only see two targets, catching one for three yards on the day. Certainly not inspiring numbers out of a WR2 for the day, but when tasked with being covered by one of the game's young stars, Dak was not going to tempt fate all evening because he simply did not have to. Not great for Gallup personally, but great for the Cowboys nonetheless.

Switching our focus back to here and now - the Cardinals possess no such threat, and all indications are that Cooks looks like he will be back for the matchup meaning Gallup will go back to WR3 and square off against a favorable matchup with the Cardinals' lesser cornerbacks.

There are no guarantees that the production light is suddenly going to flip on this week, but with all things equal, this looks like the best chance Gallup has early in the season to prove that he is much more than a decoy, or a victim of circumstance. If it doesn't happen the questions will intensify, but with a solid performance on Sunday in Arizona, it could change a lot of perceptions about the wide receiver going forward.

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