DALLAS — Randy Gregory used to run whatever plays the coaches told him. Be at spot X and do your job.
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn noted that the 29-year-old has been consistent and relentless through the first five week. For the defensive end, the reason is that he is starting to understand the reasoning behind his job on given plays.
"We have a lot of unique plays that we run, and one of the big things for me was knowing the plays but not really understanding the why," Gregory said. "This year I feel like I understand the why. I still mess up on plays throughout the week, but I feel like I run them pretty well on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So, just my level of attention to just the playbook, knowing where I need to be that I can go out there and play a little bit faster and go out there and make a play."
In four games, all of which he has started, Gregory has provided the Dallas defense with four combined tackles, 2.0 sacks, two tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, and a fumble recovery.
Gregory knew that this production was within him; he knew his knack for disruption was high level. What curtailed Gregory were availability issues, which are no longer a problem.
Said Gregory: "I've been confident in my play. I think over the last two years it really cemented in my head that I can play at a high level. Now it's just about staying out there, staying available, and being able to stay consistent out there and make plays. So, I think I'm doing a good job of it."
Quinn has been impressed with the way that Gregory can play inside and outside as it requires more mental acuity to know the playbook.
"We played him outside," said Quinn. "We played him inside. You guys have seen that. So that takes work to study both things, the packages. It’s a lot of extra studying to learn them, but he’s up for it. I just feel like over the last three weeks, he’s been one of our most consistent players — just relentless at staying with it."
Gregory and the Cowboys will take on their first rookie quarterback of the season when they play the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Sunday. Mac Jones is 2-3 and coming off of his first fourth quarter comeback as the Patriots overcame the Houston Texans 25-22 in Week 5.
Do you think that Randy Gregory will collect a sack in New England on Sunday? Share your predictions with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.