Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Reacts to Garrett’s Firing, McCarthy’s Hiring

Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Ezekiel Elliott

It’s been a half-decade since Ezekiel Elliott played for a coach not named Jason Garrett. You’d have to go back to 2015 when he was a junior at Ohio State, and Garrett was midway through his decade-long Dallas tenure.

Five years later, Elliott will play for a coach not named Jason Garrett. And it feels … strange to the superstar Cowboys running back.

“I think it will be weird, something that I’m not used to,” he said Wednesday at the Pro Bowl, via the Dallas Morning News. “But change is hard, but sometimes good. Sometimes you need change. We’ll see what we have going for us.”

The Cowboys, of course, anticlimactically dismissed Garrett on Jan. 5 in the wake of the club’s seventh playoff-less campaign since 2010. He was quickly replaced by former Packers Super Bowl-winning coach Mike McCarthy, who evidently shared an encouraging conversation with Zeke during his initial rounds at The Star.

”I got an opportunity to talk to him one time, and it was a nice visit a couple weeks ago,” Elliott said Wednesday, via ESPN. “Wasn’t very long, but kinda getting to know each other a bit, talking a little ball, what we thought we needed to do going into next year.”

Now that he has a true workhorse at his disposal, something he never possessed in Green Bay, McCarthy won’t shy away from making him a focal point, rather than heap the entirety of the offense upon quarterback Dak Prescott’s shoulders. Whereas Garrett and incumbent coordinator Kellen Moore failed to best incorporate the two foundational pieces, the former’s successor (rightly) believes they go hand-in-hand.

McCarthy — a notoriously pass-happy play-caller — vowed that Elliott is “going to get the football” in this system, a hybrid West Coast attack.

“Let’s make no mistake about that,” he said on Jan. 8 during his introductory press conference, per Pro Football Talk. “I think you have to clearly understand when you saw the offense is going to make a quarterback successful, the best play to make him successful is a great run game. We clearly understand what we have here and how we could build off of that.”

Change indeed is difficult for scores of people, even multi-millionaire athletes, but it had to happen. Come September, if not sooner, once he sees what’s in store, Elliott likely will be singing a different tune — a gleeful tune.

Sometimes, the grass is greener.

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Jaylon Smith Comments on Coaching Change

There’s a notion that Garrett was resented, or at the very least disrespected, by his now-ex-players. That has proven to be patently false, because numerous Cowboys have wished the 53-year-old well on his next endeavor, which, as we now know, brought him to New York as the Giants’ offensive coordinator.

Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith, an alternate called up to the all-star game following Luke Kuechly’s shocking retirement, further tore down the aforementioned narrative while echoing Elliott’s viewpoint.

“It’s going to be weird, because you’re so used to Jason, and one thing I loved about Jason, he’s the ultimate consistent [person],” Smith said Wednesday, via the Dallas Morning News. “Never high, never low, just [clapping] — that’s him. He always stayed true to himself. I respect him for that. I learned a lot from Jason, looking forward to what’s next.”

What’s next, precisely, remains unclear. What we do know for sure is Garrett’s Giants will face the Cowboys at least twice in 2020. There’s a large measure of revenge intertwined within the already-bitter rivalry matchups, and it isn’t limited to The Clapper.

“Now I get to really beat on him,” Smith said, laughing.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL