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2017 Cowboys: The Wrong Argument to Pay Zeke Elliott

Mauricio Rodriguez



Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

Ezekiel Elliott's future with the Dallas Cowboys organization has become a widely debated subject. Everyone knows how good of a running back he is. Not only is he one of the best in the game right now, he has the potential to end up in the Hall of Fame. He's obviously not even close yet, but once he hangs up his cleats, who knows who will we call the greatest running back in Cowboys history?

Although the debate is about signing or not signing Zeke to a long-term extension, it doesn't revolve around how great of a player he is. That much should be clear. All the analysts and fans that think the team shouldn't pay him big time money don't believe so because they think Elliott is bad or not good enough. Of course not.

The discussion is rather about the value of running backs in the NFL. A completely valid argument, given the proven history of how running backs' careers can be shorter than the rest, thanks to the continuous workload they receive. Even more when it's about guys like Elliott who get tons of touches year in and year out.

Ezekiel Elliott, Eagles

There are good and bad arguments on both sides, but one that's tossed around very often by the "Pay Zeke" team is how the the team fared during his absence in 2017. As you might remember, Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games that season. In that stretch, the Cowboys went 3-3, turned the ball over ten times and struggled badly.

Dak Prescott threw five touchdowns and seven interceptions, averaged only 191 yards per game and was sacked 17 times. He also fumbled the ball three times. That was tough, remember?

For many, this is enough to say the Cowboys can't be successful without Ezekiel Elliott. However, this argument is, at best, incomplete.

First of all, we cannot pretend like the Cowboys didn't have another important member of the offense missing. Tyron Smith missed a couple of games during that stretch, including the infamous game versus the Atlanta Falcons in which Prescott was brought down eight times. With Smith, the Cowboys went 3-1 during Elliott's time away. Zeke wasn't the only absence.

But that's not even the most important thing. At the time, the Cowboys had no starting-caliber talent at the position other than Zeke.

Patrik [No C] Walker on Twitter

I asked @Melvingordon25 his message to those who devalue #NFL RBs, and fail to separate good ones from elite ones when it's time for contract talks: "You see what happened when @EzekielElliott was out." #Chargers #Cowboys

So even though Melvin Gordon (who's looking for a big time deal with the L.A. Chargers and speaking up for running backs' value) and many others have commented on how the Cowboys did when Zeke was out, that doesn't tell the story of how life without Elliott would really be.

At the time, Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden were the team's backup running backs. A solid group of backups? Maybe, maybe not. But none of them were starting caliber. If the Cowboys were to let Zeke walk in the future, they would obviously fill the position with either another three-down RB or get a couple of solid players to work with a RB committee.

They would work with better players than they did when Elliott was away in 2017.

The real question is how would the offense fare with a non-elite running back, but a good or two starting ones? In 2017, they didn't have that when Zeke was out.

The Cowboys wouldn't settle to work with Zeke's current backups. They'd find someone else. They wouldn't "find another Ezekiel Elliott" because that would be very hard to do, but college football produces tons of quality running backs every year. The front office could find one by the time Zeke's contract expired if they wished to do so.

Look at the amount of NFL teams that have success without elite running backs. There are plenty. I'm a huge Ezekiel Elliott fan, and I'd love for him to stay in the long term, but there's no way I believe the Cowboys would do so bad if he doesn't.

There are many arguments to pay Ezekiel Elliott, but how the team did without him in 2017  isn't the correct one.

Tell me what you think about "2017 Cowboys: The Wrong Argument to Pay Zeke Elliott" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.


Player News

Cowboys K Brett Maher’s 63-Yard Field Goal Sets New NFL Record

Jess Haynie



Brett Maher

After hitting a 63-yard field goal last night in the Dallas Cowboys' win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Kicker Brett Maher now owns the NFL record for most field goal made at 60 yards or longer. It was the third 60-plus FG of his career and second so far this season.

Maher hit a 62-yarder last week in Dallas' loss to the New York Jets. That kick tied him with Sebastian Janikowski and Greg Zuerlein for having two career field goals of 60 or more.

Now Brett stands alone in that category. Last night's kick also was just one yard shy of Matt Prater's record for the NFL's longest field goal; Maher hit from 64 yards in 2013.

If Brett Maher ever gets a chance to kick in Denver, he may have a great shot at breaking Prater's record as well. According to NBC's data from last night, Maher's kick would have been good from 66 yards out.

It was a good night overall for the Cowboys kicker. Maher had two other makes from 26 and 29 yards.

Despite his heroics at times, Brett Maher has been one of the least accurate kickers in the NFL the last two years. Even after last night Brett is hitting just 71.4% of his field goals so far in 2019; that ties him for 25th in the league.

The most puzzling aspect of all with Maher is how much he struggles with shorter range kicks. You almost have more confidence in him kicking from 60 yards out than attempting an extra point.

Few kickers could survive that kind of performance and uncertainty, but few can do what Maher can with his long range ability. It's a risk/reward situation that the Cowboys are continuing to work with.

For today, at least, Maher and his team are basking in the glory of a great game. Let's hope both can keep up the positive momentum.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Matthew Lenix



Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Coming into yesterday's battle for NFC East supremacy against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys defense was looking to regain some swagger. The Green Bay Packers were led by Aaron Jones who had a career day with 182 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 34-24 beatdown of the Cowboys. Last week at Metlife Stadium, the New York Jets got a career day themselves from their former third overall pick in Sam Darnold who threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his return from Mononucleosis that kept him out since Week one. The Cowboys were handed their third consecutive loss 24-22 and their season was headed down the drain.

It would be paramount for the Cowboys defensive unit to set a tone and they didn't waste any time doing so. The Eagle's first possession would only last five plays as Jaylon Smith forced a fumble by Tight End Dallas Goedert that was recovered by Maliek Collins. Just two plays into their second drive, Carson Wentz was strip-sacked by All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence inside the Eagles own 15 which was recovered by Antwaun Woods. Both turnovers led to scores for the Cowboys as they took an early 14-0 lead in the games first six minutes.

After the Eagles scored on a seven-play 87-yard drive with a little over four minutes to go in the first quarter they would only run 12 plays the rest of the first half, and the Cowboys went into the locker room with a commanding 27-7 lead.

The second half would be a continuation of the first 30 minutes of play. After an exchange of field goals in the third quarter, the Eagles were simply out of their misery early in the fourth. Wentz was intercepted by Safety Xavier Woods and he committed his second fumble of the game on the very next drive. In the end, the Cowboys whipped the Eagles from start to finish 37-10 and claimed outright first place in the NFC East.

There were several encouraging signs defensively for the Cowboys vs the Eagles. Maliek Collins matched his season total with five tackles and also recovered a fumble. Both starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn each had a sack showing exactly why the Cowboys put this combo together, to terrorize quarterbacks. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had four tackles and a sack, a great follow up to his four tackle performance with an interception a week earlier, further making his case to be the top guy at nickel corner in this defense. The old veteran Sean Lee didn't go unnoticed either as his seven tackles were tied for of the team lead. He got more snaps due to Leighton Vander Esch's early exit with a neck injury.

You expect an offense like the Eagles to make plays and score points eventually, but the Cowboys defense wasn't having any of it in this contest. In addition to giving up under 300 yards of total offense, they only allowed the Eagles to convert three third downs, go 0 for 2 in the red zone and forced four turnovers. That's a recipe for victory any Sunday.

Now, the Cowboys go into the bye week sitting on top the NFC East throne. This is the perfect time to get guys fully healthy with a clash against the New York Giants on the road awaiting them in two weeks. The Cowboys defense played with their backs to the wall and pulled out a big-time performance when they needed it the most. Consistency is what has kept them from looking like the top seven unit they were in 2018. Was this game the turning point? We shall see, but nonetheless, this showing by them was exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Player News

Cowboys Get Good News on Vander Esch, Quinn Injuries After Eagles Game

Jess Haynie



Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch off to a Fast Start 1

The Dallas Cowboys got a big win last night over the Philadelphia Eagles, but there was concern that they also suffered some big injuries. But good news; despite their leaving the game and not returning, both LB Leighton Vander Esch and DE Robert Quinn appear to have avoided any significant issues.

Vander Esch suffered a neck stinger in the second quarter and did not come back. It appears he was held out as a precautionary measure, and the Cowboys' 21-7 lead at that point may have contributed to the decision.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch just told me he's good. First neck stinger. Disputes "history" of neck issues reports. Told me he would have continued playing but "wasn't up to me

Quinn's rib injury also occurred before halftime and ended his night. The veteran picked up his obligatory sack before going out, and it sounds like he should be fine for Dallas' next game.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @GMFB: The #Cowboys got a few injury scares, but LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and LB Robert Quinn (rib) are expected to be OK.

These defensive standouts join a host of Cowboys starters who are going to benefit greatly from the team's bye week.

Dallas went into the game with injury concerns to WRs Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, OTs Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, and CBs Byron Jones and Anthony Brown. Of those, Brown was the only one who did not play last night.

Still, all of these players need a week to rest and be ready for the long haul of the regular season.

The Cowboys will get back to work in Week 9 with a road trip to New York, facing the Giants on Monday Night Football.

Thankfully, it looks like Leighton Vander Esch and Robert Quinn will both be ready to play in two weeks.

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