So is Ezekiel Elliott washed up? In short, probably not. The Dallas Cowboys rushing attack was at its best week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. Despite a weak offensive line, Elliott was able to impose his will with 127 all purpose yards and 2 TDs in a losing effort. Elliott has had one dominant effort since, against the New York Giants. Outside of those two games, Elliott has underperformed with 2 TDs, 5 fumbles, and has yet to eclipse a 100 yard performance. Elliott has shown flashes of explosiveness and is still an extremely patient runner.
So what is the issue? For starters, at his best, Elliott ran behind the NFL’s premier offensive line. Now it’s 2020 and things have changed. Tyron Smith, one of the best LT’s in the league, is out for the season. Connor Williams hasn’t lived up to his 2nd round pick status and has failed to replace Ron Leary at LG. The QB of the OL, Travis Frederick, retired in the offseason and left the team with a backup center, Joe Looney, starting. Looney has missed games as well. Zack Martin has held down the OL admirably at RG, but has also missed time and can’t do everyone else’s job. RT La’el Collins will not play a single snap this season. So calling Ezekiel Elliott washed up is a bit lazy. Quite frankly, it’s not that simple.
The nail in the coffin for the Cowboys season was when Dak Prescott went down. Ezekiel Elliott began pressing in a struggling Cowboys offense and started turning the ball over as a result. Defenses are able to focus solely on pressuring the QB and stuffing the box so Elliott has no space to run. When Elliott is at his worst, he is usually getting beat at the line of scrimmage. OC Kellen Moore has tried to make adjustments, going as far as using Elliott in the wildcat formation. But nothing makes up for having Prescott on the field. Prescott kept defenses modest. They had to account for him.
News also came out this week that Elliott has been limited in practice throughout the week with a hamstring injury. This raises the question, has Elliott dealt with this injury off and on throughout the season? No one knows, but it isn’t hard to believe. With injuries to Prescott and the offensive line, Elliott is being asked to carry a heavy load. Not only does he get the bulk of the carries each game, but he is also constantly asked to pick up protecting in pass blocking. It is imperative Elliott isn’t asked to do too much this season because the team cannot afford for anymore major injuries.
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