FRISCO - Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory was as explosive and productive as any member of this defense in 2020, participating in 10 games ...
And starting none of them.
When I list the reasons why defensive coaches Mike Nolan (coordinator) and Jim Tomsula (D-line) lost their jobs, the mismanagement of Gregory is high on the list.
That is going to change in 2021. Randy Gregory is a starter.
Midway through last season, I asked team owner Jerry Jones about whether he was disappointed that the staff hadn't found a way to fully utilize the 28-year-old Gregory, who by year's end managed 3.5 sacks, 16 QB pressures and three forced fumbles, all while playing 40 snaps in a game just twice.
Jerry answered in the affirmative. Jerry's answer was ominous.
But Jerry's answer was also promising. Because the patience that Dallas has shown Gregory - who has been suspended four times since he turned pro in 2015 - is about to pay off.
Gregory should be the club’s starting right defensive end this year. Part of the reasoning for that is Dallas' switch to a 4-3; he's a natural there. Part of it is that Aldon Smith is a free agent, and as I've reported, less likely to return than some think. Part of it is that Mike McCarthy's coaching staff's evaluation of Dorance Armstrong being more deserving of playing time than Gregory was ridiculous.
There was no personnel-related reason for the McCarthy/Nolan defense to be as historically poor as it was. And under new coordinator Dan Quinn? Book-ending Gregory with DeMarcus Lawrence and cutting them loose in a 4-3 will be a great way for Quinn to last longer around here than his predecessor did.
COO Stephen Jones will admit it's tough to "count'' on Gregory, given his behavioral issues. But jobs ride on that decision. Not playing Gregory last year got people fired. Playing Gregory this year figures to help Dallas win more than six games ... and figures to help staffers keep their jobs.
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