Cowboys finally figured out perfect role for oft-criticized Michael Gallup

Nov 12, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) makes a
Nov 12, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) makes a / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There isn't enough time or words in Webster's Dictionary to praise every player who showed out in the Dallas Cowboys' 49-17 win over the NY Giants.

CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks are understandably being showered with plaudits after they combined for 20 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns, but they weren't the only Cowboys pass-catchers that ate on Sunday.

Namely, Michael Gallup, Jake Ferguson and seventh-round rookie Jalen Brooks all turned in impressive performances. Gallup and Ferguson caught a touchdown, while Brooks hauled in all four of his targets for 39 yards.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Dallas' aerial attack, though, was Gallup's efficient afternoon. Gallup was only targeted twice, but he caught both of them for 70 yards and a touchdown. Each grab was vintage Gallup and the coaching staff deserves credit for how they've managed the oft-criticized receiver.

It's clear that reducing Gallup's role sent a message to him. That alone deserves praise, but the Cowboys finally figuring out the best way to utilize him could salvage what was becoming a lost season for the 27-year-old.

The Cowboys finally figured out how to use WR Michael Gallup

Before his torn ACL in 2020, Gallup was a premier deep threat and one of the best receivers in contested-catch situations. His leaping ability and savvy footwork allowed Gallup to make a living along the sidelines and on deep balls.

Against the Giants, Gallup caught a 41-yard touchdown on a beautiful pass from Dak Prescott and he made an acrobatic grab along the sidelines that went for 30 yards. Granted, Gallup's contested-catch win rate has fallen off a cliff in recent years, but Week 10 -- and even Week 9 against the Eagles (big third down drop notwithstanding) -- showed he can still do it with the best of them.

Prior to Sunday, the Cowboys asked Gallup to do things he's not known for: creating separation on slant routes and comebackers. He doesn't have the lateral quickness or twitchiness -- especially post-ACL surgery -- to thrive in that role and his efficiency cratered as a result.

Based on their physical profiles, Jalen Tolbert, Jalen Brooks and even Brandin Cooks are better suited for the intermediate role. That would explain why Tolbert has supplanted Gallup as WR3 in recent weeks.

Gallup's contract is still an albatross, but he can still be an impact player for the offense even in a reduced role. He needs to be a low-volume WR moving forward and his route tree should be restricted to deep shots and jump balls. There's nothing wrong with Prescott taking 2-4 shots at Gallup every game.

Less is more with Gallup and there's nothing wrong with that.

Again, this role isn't indicative reflective of his contract, but teams have to adjust based on player performance and the Cowboys deserve credit for coming to their senses on Gallup, even if it took longer than fans would've liked.

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