Michael Gallup’s ascension has helped passing game take the next step.
November 22, 2019, 11:00 am
One of the best things about the Dallas Cowboys offense this season has been the emergence of second-year Wide Receiver Michael Gallup. His ability to hit big plays in the passing game has really helped take the Cowboys’ passing offense to the next level. Much like what happened when Amari Cooper showed up in 2018, Gallup’s rise in 2019 has allowed Dak Prescott to take another step in his development and ability as a passer.
Yesterday, when speaking to the media, Amari Cooper — the presumed number one wide receiver for the Cowboys — was asked if it helps him get favorable coverage to have a Michael Gallup as a capable number two wide receiver.
Cooper scoffed at the question.
“First of all, I don’t see Gallup as a number two receiver, I see him as a number 1 receiver; especially with the things that he’s done, this only being his second year, making all the plays he’s making. So, I forgot the question. I blanked out when you called him a number two receiver.”
Cooper doesn’t generally show a ton of emotion or personality in his interviews with the media, but here he opened up a bit for his wide receiver running mate. Cooper’s assessment of Michael Gallup is spot on.
Michael Gallup is a number 1 receiver. Just so happens that the Dallas Cowboys have two of them this year.
In yards per game, Amari Cooper (88.6) and Michael Gallup (84.8) both rank in the top seven in the NFL. Only one other team boasts a wide receiver tandem with two players in the top ten in yards per game; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Only one other team has two players in the top 20 in receiving yards per game; the Kansas Chiefs with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Gallup is averaging more receiving yards per game than Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyreek Hill, and Tyler Lockett. Each of those players serves at the number one wide receiver for their respective teams.
Jacksonville, Kansas City, and the Dallas Cowboys are the only teams to have two players in the top 20 in yards per reception.
Among wide receivers with at least 22 targets on the season, the Dallas Cowboys are the only team to have two players in the top 10 in yards per route run with Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper per PFF. Narrow it down to players with at least 55 targets and the Cowboys have two players in the top five in yards per route run. Michael Gallup is averaging more yards per route run than Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Godwin, Odell Beckham Jr., and Keenan Allen. Gallup’s tied with Julio Jones for fifth in yards per route run.
Because Gallup’s only played in eight games, while most of the receivers at the top of the yardage list have played in at least 10, he only ranks 20th in receiving yards. Still, the Cowboys with Gallup and Cooper are one of just three teams in the NFL with two players in the top 20 in receiving yards.
Over the last calendar year, but especially in 2019, we’ve seen Michael Gallup show that he can take over a game. He did it again just last week when he caught nine passes on 13 targets for 148 yards. It was his third 100 yard game of the season.
With six games left to go in the regular season, Michael Gallup’s on pace for 74 receptions, 1,186 yards, and five touchdowns, which would absolutely shatter his rookie season numbers. Those are wide receiver one stats despite missing two games earlier in the season with a knee issue. If you took his current per-game averages and prorated them over a 16 game season Gallup would be on pace for 84 receptions, 1,356 yards, and 6 touchdowns on 136 targets. That’s a Dez Bryant in his prime type season minus the double-digit touchdowns.
Obviously, Gallup benefits from Amari Cooper’s ability to draw coverage his direction, but it’s getting to the point where teams have to start worrying just as much about Michael Gallup on the other side of the field.
This week against the New England Patriots will be a big test and it’s possible that Gallup sees Patriots Cornerback Stephon Gillmore in coverage a lot. New England likes to scheme their top cornerback on a team’s number two guy and then send double coverage to the number one receiver. If this is how the Patriots choose to play defense, Gallup will have a huge challenge on his hands.
Much of the passing game success in 2019 has been attributed to Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and rightfully so. Equally as important has been Michael Gallup’s ascension into a wide receiver 1a role. While teams may focus on slowing down Ezekiel Elliott and the running game and shading coverage toward Amari Cooper, Gallup has provided big plays in the passing game. He forces teams to rethink their coverages because simply put, you can’t cover everybody.
This week in Foxborough, the New England Patriots are going to get a taste of the Dallas Cowboys two-headed monster at wide receiver.