Any team hoping that Ezekiel Elliott is going to tire out this season need to change plans, as the Cowboys star insists this is the best he’s ever felt.
Every team on the Dallas Cowboys schedule knows the key to slowing down their offense is to find a way to stop Ezekiel Elliott. Unfortunately, he seems to be getting stronger as the season rolls along. That’s really bad news for teams looking to knock off Dallas in the coming weeks.
The talented running back recently told reporters that he is coming off the “best Wednesday practice he’s ever had.” That’s pretty scary considering he is currently dealing with knee bursitis and a sore ankle. Nonetheless, Elliott seems to be gaining steam as we get into the meat of the NFL season.
If you don’t believe that, just ask anyone associated with the Detroit Lions. Elliott put on a show against Matt Patricia’s defense last week. Rushing for 152 yards on 25 carries is the sort of performance Elliott has done on a semi-regular basis during his career. The Lions would have liked to hold his rushing total closer to 100 yards, but it wasn’t his ground performance that killed them.
Instead, it was what Elliott did through the air that really turned the game in the Cowboys favor. His four receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown changed the entire complexion of the Dallas offense. Suddenly, Dak Prescott looked like a quarterback with a chance every time he dropped back. In previous weeks he struggled to find anyone worth throwing the ball to on any sort of consistent basis.
The idea of getting the ball to Elliott in the passing game wasn’t exactly brain surgery for Scott Linehan and company. When you have a player who is that dynamic with the ball in his hands, it makes perfect sense to do everything you can to get him the ball in space. The Cowboys brain trust finally started to work on that against the Lions.
The real question now is just how far Jason Garrett and company will take it. Elliott isn’t going to turn into Christian McCaffrey overnight, but he should become more and more involved in the passing game. Don’t be surprised to see him get more snaps in the slot in the coming weeks. That should allow Elliott to see more of the ball without enduring the beating that’s required to run between the tackles on obvious run downs.
The Cowboys need to keep looking for ways to diversify their offense. That doesn’t mean they should lessen the load on Elliott. Given his talent and the way he’s feeling at the moment, they should ride him to as many victories as possible.