Cowboys Nation is bracing themselves for the possibility that Ezekiel Elliott could be hit with a suspension from the NFL. Rumors have circulated that Elliott is looking at a one or two game suspension, but there are several reasons why Dallas Cowboys fans shouldn't worry too much.
Ezekiel Elliott without a doubt took the Dallas Cowboys offense to a new level as a rookie in 2016 and was looking to build upon that performance this season. He will still have his chance to prove why he is one of the best running backs in the entire NFL, but he may have to do it a few games into the season.
If Elliott does miss the first two games to open up 2017 season, I believe the Dallas Cowboys are still more than capable of putting enough points on the board to beat the New York Giants and Denver Broncos. Below are my three reasons why I'm not too worried about the possible suspension to Ezekiel Elliott.
Reason #1: Cowboys' Offensive Line
It's really become commonplace to refer to the Dallas Cowboys offensive line as being one of the best in the entire NFL. There may be some reshuffling of a few positions in 2017, but they are still headlined by three Pro Bowl players who are among the best at their given positions.
Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin will pave the way for whoever is taking handoffs in the event Ezekiel Elliott is indeed suspended. La'el Collins is hopefully going to be an upgrade in 2017 at right tackle and whoever earns the starting left guard position should be just fine sandwiched between Smith and Frederick.
It's this unit that will keep the Dallas Cowboys offense rolling if an Elliott suspension happens, which is one of the reasons why I believe Cowboys fans shouldn't worry too much. They will continue to dominate by opening up running lanes for the RB and by protecting Dak Prescott in the passing game. It's just what they do and will continue to do despite any suspensions.
Reason #2: Backup RBs Are Capable Fill Ins
There's no denying that Ezekiel Elliott is arguably one of the best running backs in the entire NFL. What he accomplished his rookie season was simply amazing, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys can't survive a few games without him. That is because they have a couple of capable backups already on the roster who can fill in.
Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris have proven themselves capable of being starting RBs in the NFL, and it's that veteran experience that could be invaluable if Ezekiel Elliott is suspended. McFadden has already had a 1,000 yard season behind the Cowboys offensive line, but he's not necessarily the best fit to run in the zone blocking scheme. Morris on the other hand is a better fit, but doesn't provide the same kind of versatility as McFadden.
The Cowboys have time to figure out which running back would be the best suited to step in if Elliott can't go. McFadden or Morris are both capable of filling in and finding success, which is another reason why I think Cowboys fans shouldn't worry too much about an Ezekiel Elliott suspension.
Reason #3: WRs Can Carry The Offense
The Dallas Cowboys are going to have the deepest wide receiver position they have had in recent memory. I fully expect the passing game to reach a new level in 2017. It's become well-known that the Cowboys have a run first mentality on offense, but the wide receivers are more than capable of carrying the team on their shoulders.
Dak Prescott is looking to improve on his fantastic rookie season and he has the weapons at his disposal to do just that. Even without Ezekiel Elliott in the equation, the Cowboys have an abundance of playmakers to move the ball up and down the field and put points on the board.
Dez Bryant should return to his old form after having to play through injuries the last several seasons. Cole Beasley has become one the best slot receivers in the entire NFL and is a mismatch for anybody who tries to cover him. Terrance Williams is better than a lot of people give credit to and Ryan Switzer should add another element to the passing game.
This is shaping up to be an impressive group who could be leaned upon if the running game is struggling or in the event Ezekiel Elliott is suspended. This happens to be the biggest reasons why I don't think Cowboys fans should worry too much about Elliott's potential suspension.
Are you still worried about Ezekiel Elliott's suspension?
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.
Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.
Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.
Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.
Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.
In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.
This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.
Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan
Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.
The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.
Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
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