Ezekiel Elliott’s worst statistical season since 2017, in which he failed to crack 1,000 ground yards and recorded a career-low yards-per-carry average, prompted an appropriate if speculative question:
Is the two-time NFL rushing champ washed?
The answer varies by the source, depending on who’s asked. Emmitt Smith was queried and the Dallas Cowboys legend opined that Elliott’s best years are not yet in the rearview.
“I think with Ezekiel Elliott, many people forget that Zeke had COVID-19 before the season even got started. And no one knows what COVID-19 will do to your body until you go through it,” Smith recently said on the Great Dane Nation Podcast, via Inside The Star. “If you look at his body and play through the first five-six weeks of the season, his body structure, his weight looked a little bit different than the latter part of the season. Physically you just look at him, he looks a lot leaner in the latter part of the season than he did in the first part of the season. Now in the first part of the season, obviously he had some fumbling issues. Granted, they get paid on the other side of the ball like we do, not to make any excuses, but I do believe that Zeke will be better for what he had gone through this year. And he will be prepared and probably start to take care of himself differently for what he has gone through this year. And I think with Tony Pollard, there’s a great one-two punch.”
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Tale Of The Tape
Named the Cowboys’ biggest disappointment of 2020, Elliott eclipsed 100 yards in just two games and notched his fewest ground touchdowns (eight) since 2018, as well as the lowest yards-per-carry (4.0) of his five-year career. His receiving output (338 yards) took a turndown from 2019 (420).
Like everyone else on the Cowboys’ offense, Zeke was severely impacted by the Week 5 loss of franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. From that point forward, he faced stacked boxes and was continually swarmed around the line of scrimmage.
Dallas’ injury-ruined offensive line (and his own calf ailment) also contributed to Elliott’s sagging numbers, but the 25-year-old was outshined by sophomore RB Tony Pollard on multiple occasions, leading to speculation about the former’s future in silver and blue — speculation that head coach Mike McCarthy was forced to dispel.
“I have no concerns about Zeke. I think he’s still a big-time player and will continue to be a featured component of our offense,” McCarthy said on Jan. 4.
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