There have been question marks Dallas Cowboys defense all offseason. In 2020, the Cowboys fought against the race, they fought to create pass-rush, and they simply fought to stop offenses all together. Many feel that the root of this issue lies at the feet of the defensive line. If you can not create a consistent pass rush, you make it harder for the defensive rumors to cover, if you do not have defensive linemen who can win at the point of attack or occupy blocks, you make things much harder for the linebacker unit. The hope is the addition of Brent Urban, Tarell Basham and Carlos Watkins in free agency combined with using draft resources on Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston and Quinton Bohanna, will provide depth and talent for 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 who showed promise late last year as his options and confidence grew. Neville Gallimore, a second-year professor at the University of Oklahoma, possesses all the tools to be the most important internal solution to Cowboys defensive problems.
Gallimore’s development at the end of last season was a pleasure to watch. A young player who wants to have a foothold when he understood an understanding of what was asked of him as a professional, combined with the game that certainly slowed him down as he acclimatized to the speed and pace of an NFL game . His split playing time seemed to indicate that as the second half of the season progressed, he began to see more playing time for eight starts and voice 296 snaps during that time. Of course, part of the reason was injury to other players.
Gallimore grew into his role, as did his confidence. The young man understands that cowboys need a high-level player by the 3-technique that can be disruptive, and does so at a consistent level going forward. He may also see playing time at the 5-technique when defensive coordinator Dan Quinn calls on three-down lineman fronts. Having this position flexible and the ability to perform many roles will be the key to not only his life, but to the team’s overall defensive success. The Cowboys as an organization have struggled to find that player in recent years, and Gallimore has an opportunity to address that position going forward.
The addition of Dan Quinn and a normal offseason program can also not be overestimated. The addition of Quinn as defense coordinator and this year’s team, which has a full, somewhat normal offseason, allows Gallimore to develop and grow within this system. Gallimore did not get this opportunity with Mike Nolan last year, and it showed when the product on the field for defense was not good. The piece got even better as the year progressed ahead of Gallimore, and it makes you wonder how fast he might have blinked if he got a proper offseason and training camp last year.
When you look at Gallimore’s 2020 campaign, his stats are analyzed. Many people look at the number to determine a player’s success, and many will look at the lack of sack production (.5 sacks in total from last season) and rightly suggest that it will be necessary. But in the same breath, he was able to produce 12 quarterbacks of pressure and four tackles for loss. Gallimore’s presence moving forward will be classified with much more than the state sheet. It will be the things seen on film that do not get much statistical notation but will be crucial to the success of the defense. Gallimore will need to be able to win on the attacking spot, occupying space and blocks, providing easier reading and opportunities for his teammates around him. He will have to be obliged to perform the dirty work in the interior, while giving an even passage speed.
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. Especially for Gallimore, the leap from year one to year two could be impressive. If he is able to get into the camp and continue to build on his foundation and impress the coaching staff by going through the camp and doing what he stopped doing in OTA, and building on the progress he showed in the second half of 2020, the Cowboys could very well look at their future 3-technique. The Cowboys have been dying to find a playmaking 3 technique for years, they have very well perhaps worked him out last year.
We discussed the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in depth in one of the latest episodes of our Training Camp preview series on Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you do not miss any of our videos!