It was a bad day at the office for the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. They were bested in all phases by the Arizona Cardinals as they went down 28-16, dropping their record to 2-1 on the season. It wasn't all bad, though.
Wide receiver Michael Gallup suffered a torn ACL in Week 17 of the 2021 season after missing seven games with a calf strain to begin the year. He returned to the field in Week 4 last season, but it was clear he wasn't fully recovered from the ACL tear. After just two receptions for 12 yards in the first two games, the former third-round pick hit the ground running in Arizona.
Gallup was targeted seven times, and he hauled six receptions for 92 yards as he and running back Tony Pollard (who had 122 rushing yards) were the focal points of the offense. This was easily his best performance since Week 12 of the 2021 season when he caught five passes for 106 yards in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. His production was one thing versus the Cardinals, but after almost two years since his ACL injury, it was how he looked doing it that should make the Cowboys smile.
Gallup didn't have the confidence in 2022 to make hard cuts and show the burst that he's known for. In Week 3, Gallup was seen catching slant routes, which required the ability to explode off the line of scrimmage while changing directions quickly after cutting. Also, he showed that he's still a threat to go up and make contested catches, something that takes strong knees to pull off as well.
Gallup won on the slant because he didn’t waste no time coming off the line— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) September 24, 2023
He took an outside release and sold the vertical
He hit his 3rd outside got inside without hand fighting and won on the slant #teachtape pic.twitter.com/1pzPd4drhk
The Michael Gallup of old!pic.twitter.com/dEH7QaRYTR— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) September 24, 2023
With Gallup shaping back into form, he can be a huge weapon in the red zone on fade routes or even slants, something the Cowboys desperately need after only converting three of their 11 trips inside the 20 over the previous two weeks. This will give Brandin Cooks more opportunities in one-on-one situations if Gallup is getting more attention, which he could certainly use as he's only seen 11 targets and caught four passes in the first three games.
Cee Dee Lamb will benefit from the Gallup factor as well. Being the slot demon that he is, this gives him the chance to dominate in the middle of the field even more than he already has with his 91 yards-per-game average at the moment. So, long story short, Gallup getting back to himself makes the Cowboys passing attack more lethal overall.
The Cowboys face the New England Patriots this Sunday, and Bill Belichick is known for eliminating the opposing team's best weapon. So, Gallup has the potential to have another big game if Lamb is neutralized to some degree.