He spoke with reporters after leading the Cowboys to a 38-3 blowout win over the Patriots in Week 4, and Prescott gave the Patriots this advice about Elliott, per Ben Volin of The Boston Globe: “They need to play him more, but hey, who am I?”
Prescott has a point after Elliott touched the football just eight times during his return to AT&T Stadium on Sunday, October 1. Granted, the Patriots were unable to lean on the ground game after falling behind 28-3 at the half.
Even so, there were calls for Elliott to get more carries ahead of New England’s RB1 Rhamondre Stevenson even before the Patriots faced the Cowboys. Prescott has now lent his voice to those calls.
Elliott Endorsement Should Make the Patriots Think
Elliott arrived at Gillette Stadium seemingly on the downside of his career, but still boasting a prolific track record. He’d rushed for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns during seven seasons in Dallas.
While short-yardage and goal-line work have defined Elliott’s game in recent years, Prescott obviously believes his ex-teammate still has more left to give. Unfortunately, the Patriots don’t appear to share the opinion after giving Elliott a mere six carries and three targets against his old team.
The lack of work was surprising after Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick had praised Elliott for the 28-year-old’s performance against the New York Jets in Week 3, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, who highlighted one notable run.
Elliott appeared primed to build on the positive impression he made against the Jets when he ripped off a nice gain on his first carry against the Cowboys, per Taylor Kyles of Patriots on CLNS.
Ultimately, this nine-yard run was an outlier as Stevenson continued as the primary back. Yet, the would-be workhorse struggled to get on track against the Cowboys’ defense, averaging just 2.1 yards per carry.
Elliott bested that average, continuing a pattern Chad Graff of The Athletic noticed and detailed before Week 4: “Stevenson has 134 rushing yards on 46 carries (2.9 yards per carry), while Elliott has 122 yards on 28 rushes (4.4 ypc).”
Graff also pointed out how Stevenson “needs to play better or he’s going to keep losing carries to Elliott.”
It didn’t happen against the Cowboys, but problems at another position could force Belichick to feature Elliott and the running game more often moving forward.
Mac Jones’ Issues Should Give Elliott a Bigger Role
Belichick sending Mac Jones to the bench for Bailey Zappe during the third quarter in Dallas put an exclamation point on the Patriots’ growing issues at quarterback. Although Belichick has indicated Jones will still be the starter against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5, the offense should look a lot different.
The change needs to start with more touches for Elliott and Stevenson. When Jones led the Pats to the playoffs two seasons ago it was largely by relying on a bruising rushing attack led by Damien Harris.
It’s time for a Patriots’ offense beset by inconsistent quarterback play and hamstrung by a lack of elite talent at wide receiver to get back to its power-running roots. The best way to do that is for Belichick and coordinator Bill O’Brien to follow Prescott’s advice and make Elliott the feature of the playbook.