Think of something that the Dallas Cowboys need to improve. I know you’re thinking about the run defense. I wouldn’t have expected anything else.
The team has struggled to defend the run the past two years. Teams have noticed that and taken advantage of it, especially this season. While the pass defense was playing terribly at first, they did improve toward the end of the season, unlike the run defense.
Last season the team’s defense ranked 31st for rushing yards, 25th for touchdowns, and 30th for yards per run. In 2019, Dallas ranked 11th for rushing yards, 17th for touchdowns, and eighth for yards per run.
The drastic drop in production can be blamed on the laughable coaching by former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. The problem is the run defense has been sub-par before this season. The team must improve this part of their game if they want to win.
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cowboys picked defensive tackle Neville Gallimore in the third round. He wasn’t supposed to have many opportunities, but injuries forced him to be the top guy late in the season. He played 50 percent or more of the defensive snaps in six of the last eight games.
In those eight games, he made 21 tackles. That would see him make 46 tackles in a full season. He played only 54 percent of the defensive snaps in those weeks and was on a pace that would tie him for 20th in tackles among interior defensive linemen.
That is an impressive pace for a rookie out of the third round. He is also playing just above half of his team’s defensive snaps. The rookie was either very visible or the complete opposite. Working on being more consistent will make him the go-to defensive tackle in Dallas.
While the pressure will not be on him alone, Gallimore could be the difference-maker. It would complement defensive tackle Trysten Hill, who is looking more like a pass-rushing lineman.
The former Sooner accumulated at least 40 tackles in two of his four college seasons. Gallimore has the potential to be an impact interior lineman through his raw athleticism.
With some fine-tuning by who else but new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Gallimore can take the step up that the team needs. Maybe then, the Cowboys’ run defense will be respectable once again.