Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Speaks Out Strongly on Reduced Role in Offense

Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Ezekiel Elliott

There are two I’s in “Ezekiel Elliott,” but zero in his mindset as the Dallas Cowboys‘ thought-to-be workhorse.

While no longer are the Cowboys a run-first team, and no longer is Elliott the engine that makes their offense go, the two-time NFL rushing champ isn’t pushing to become The Guy — and quarterback Dak Prescott, MVP frontrunner, out of the spotlight.

“That’s what a good teammate does,” Elliott told reporters Wednesday, via ESPN. “You guys kind of make me feel awkward, like I’m supposed to be pissed because I had 40 yards and we won a football game. I don’t know. I don’t really want to get into it any more.”

There has been a sizable (and very noticeable) shift in Dallas’ ideology. Despite handing Zeke a $90 million extension, they’ve entrusted the team to Prescott, who in a contract year currently leads the league in passing yards. This much was shown Sunday in Detroit, where Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore dialed up 46 pass plays to 24 runs, six of which were provided by Prescott, in a 35-27 win over the Lions.

Of the Cowboys’ 509 total yards, Prescott accounted for 444 through the air, nearly decupling Elliott’s 45 rushing yards, which he managed on just 16 attempts, his first game under 20 totes since Oct. 6.

Prescott is on pace to throw for 5,154 yards this season, according to Pro Football Talk. Elliott (833 yards) is on pace to secure his worst output since 2017, falling well short of last year’s 1,434-yard effort.

Notice the dichotomy?

“The passing game is rolling right now, so you’ve got to ride it,” Elliott conceded, per The Athletic. “Hopefully it’s rolling through the rest of the season and you don’t need to run the ball. … When someone has the hot hand, keep giving them the ball.”

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Zeke To Keep Head Down, Feet Churning

For all the hoopla about Elliott and him not providing a decent return on investment, the Cowboys still rank seventh overall in rushing offense, averaging 131.9 yards per game. His 833 yards place Elliott eighth overall among NFL RBs. He’s averaging a respectable 4.3 yards-per-carry and his seven TDs on the ground are tied for sixth-most in the sport.

So it’s not completely terrible; it’s just not what the Cowboys and its fans — and probably Elliott himself — are used to seeing from the Pro Bowl back, who recognizes the issues and vows to fix it. What isn’t broken, anyway.

“We know we’ve got some work to do on the run game. Week in and week out, we’re going to attack that and we’re going to get better in the run game,” Elliott said, per The Athletic. “But as long as the offense is rolling and we’re scoring 35 points, that’s great in the NFL.”

Jerry Jones Talks Up Elliott

The Cowboys’ czar doesn’t want the egg on his face associated with running back who some feel might have gotten a little complacent after securing his bag, as the kids say. Showman Jerry is the best Jerry, and he was on full display earlier this week when the topic of Elliott was broached.

“I want to be real clear. Zeke is one of the best players in the NFL. It makes no sense to not get the ball to Zeke. We can do both,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan.

It’d behoove Dallas to do both Sunday in their season-defining showdown with the New England Patriots, who own the league’s top defense in points allowed and total yards but rank tenth against the run, surrendering 97.3 YPG. If the Cowboys hope to spring a massive upset — they’re 6.5-point road underdogs — Zeke must be fed.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL