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Film Files: Cowboys’ Michael Gallup Growing As A Receiver

Film Files: Cowboys’ Michael Gallup growing as a receiver

By: Mike Vannucci (@CoachVannucci)

The Dallas Cowboys have a decision to make in re-signing Amari Cooper, which they most likely will do. If they do, the receiver duo of Cooper and rapidly improving wide receiver Michael Gallup has a high ceiling for next season. Gallup’s growth from his rookie season in 2018 has been encouraging for the Cowboys organization.  Before we dive into the film to dissect what Gallup has done extraordinarily well this season, let’s take a look at the numbers:

Season Targets Receptions Yards TD Yards/rec. Yards/tgt. Drops Catch %
2018 68 33 507 2 15.4 7.5 5 48.5%
2019

(14 games)

113 66 1,107 6 16.8 9.8 11 58.4%

Stats from Pro Football Reference 

Gallup improved in every single receiver statistic, doubling his yards and receptions, while tripling his touchdown production. After his rookie season, it was evident that Gallup was going to be a vertical threat with the ability to go up and make a play on the ball. However, he’s become a threat after the catch, as well as an efficient route runner; hence the 200% increase in production. 

The one number that negatively catches attention is the 11 drops he had this year, second in the league only to Julian Edelman (13). Gallup’s drops were a slight concern after his rookie season, after having five drops on only 68 targets. We will take a deeper look at Gallup’s drops, but first let’s look at what has helped him log his first 1,000-yard season.

Vertical Threat

Gallup ranked 15th in yards per reception his rookie season, ahead of guys like Julio Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Brandin Cooks (worth noting all three of these receivers had more receptions, making it difficult for them to keep their YPR as high). He climbed all the way up to seventh in the league in yards per reception in 2019, all while doubling his receptions. 

Receivers need to have substantial linear speed (both acceleration & max velocity) in order to consistently win vertical. However, often times longer targets turn into contested catches, and Gallup has proven his ability to consistently come down with them. He is able to win with speed, as well as win the contested, or “combat,” catches.

Route Running

Gallup doubled his production for two main reasons. The first reason being he had a larger role in the offense. Secondly, and more importantly, is because of his growth as a route runner. 

In the video below, you’ll see him running a blaze out on two different occasions (a blaze out is a post which breaks back flat to the out), both of which are run effectively, and he wins the routes with a significant amount of separation. He does a nice job snapping his head and eyes to “find the QB” to trigger the defender to chase the in breaking post prior to snapping flat. He can clean the route up even more in the clip versus the Detroit Lions by having his arms mirror his legs on his break. You’ll notice him shoot them up high, rather than keeping them down tight to his body (continuing to move, but with a shorter range of motion).

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Gallup is also able to “drop his weight” violently, and with a suddenness that makes him difficult to cover. While he needs to be a bit more consistent with his efficiency here, he has shown that he is capable of routinely winning on routes by getting in and out of breaks without wasted movement. We discussed how he is a vertical threat and when that is paired with the ability to rapidly decelerate, he can become a nightmare for his cover defender. You’ll notice him in the next video threaten the defensive back with his vertical stem right up until he hits his route depth, which he rapidly decelerates to make his break. 

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Finally, Gallup has demonstrated his ability to win on routes with physicality. Here he uses the “throw-by” technique. You’ll notice that once the defender extends that right arm near the top of the route to widen Gallup, Gallup does an excellent job throwing the defender by him. He strikes the defensive back’s triceps (between the elbow and shoulder) to force him upfield as Gallup works back towards the football. 

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Athleticism

Quite possibly the thing that leaps off the screen most when watching him on tape is his athletic ability and body control. This is something that was evident in his rookie season, but was really put on full display in Week 17 versus the Washington Redskins. He has the athletic ability to make extraordinary plays. Here is Gallup on second & goal from the four-yard line, making nearly a 360-degree catch look routine. The degree of difficulty here is off the charts, but Gallup is able to climb the ladder and control his body enough to get both feet in bounds. 

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This extreme ability to control his body shows up again after Gallup makes a reception on a shallow cross, and is able to immediately make the flat defender miss (probably should have sat the route down here). Gallup essentially hurdles the tackle attempt, and is able to keep himself up. Perhaps the most impressive part here is how well Gallup accelerates after the catch and forces the missed tackle. 

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Drops

Gallup was second in the league in drops, but as we’ve seen in some of the previous videos, he is capable of making any catch. Let’s take a look at one reason Gallup dropped so many balls this year, something which he should improve upon by the start of next season. 

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On the first drop, you’ll see he doesn’t track the ball into the catch. As a wide receiver, you want to imagine there is a string from your nose to the ball, and wherever the ball goes — it should take your “nose” and therefore your eyes to it — ultimately never losing sight of it.

On the second drop, it’s safe to say Gallup was thinking about getting upfield prior to making the reception. His body is turning prior to getting his hands on the ball and he wasn’t “committed” to the catch.

Despite the drop issues this season, Gallup has grown quite a bit from his rookie season. There should be a high level of excitement from Cowboys fans heading into next season. It will be interesting to see if the growth of Gallup impacts the decision the Dallas Cowboys have to make on Amari Cooper’s contract. If the Cowboys do decide to keep Cooper, this duo has the potential to be one of the best in the league in 2020. 

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