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3 Reasons Ezekiel Elliott Will Bounce Back in 2021

The 2020 season was a rough one for the Dallas Cowboys, and in particular for their top runner Ezekiel Elliott. His 979 yards were a career-low and it marked the first time he failed to reach 1,000 yards in a full season of action. He only had two 100-yard games, tied a career-high in fumbles (6), and his eight total touchdowns were the least he’s had in any season.

Elliott’s doubters now have plenty of ammunition to criticize the former two-time rushing champion. However, three factors could very well silence them and put Elliott’s name back at the top when people mention the best running backs in the NFL.

The return of Dak Prescott

It’s no secret that Dak Prescott is currently trying to find his long-term security with the Cowboys. Whether it’s a long-term deal or a second franchise tag, Prescott will be the organization’s quarterback in 2021, and Elliott will benefit from it.

With weapons in the passing game like Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboy’s passing attack will be lethal with Prescott for a full season. Having multiple threats on the outside like Cooper and Gallup, mixed with Lamb who led the league as a rookie in catches and yards in the slot, defenses will have to honor that and it will be difficult to load the box and defend Elliott. Plus, a healthy Blake Jarwin at tight end will aid in this as well.

We’ve seen Elliott produce at a high level when Prescott had his best season as a pro. In 2019, Prescott nearly set a franchise record with 4,902 passing yards and threw 30 touchdowns. Elliott was also lights out finishing fourth in rushing yards (1,357), fourth in touchdowns (12), second in all-purpose yards (1,777), and first in 100-yard games (7). Also, while Prescott won the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, Elliott led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards. Simply put, their games feed off each other well.

A healthy offensive line

The Cowboys were rattled with injuries in 2020, and the offensive line suffered immensely. La’el Collins misses the entire season, Tyron Smith missed 14 games with a neck issue, and Zack Martin missed six games with a calf injury. Undrafted free agents Brandon Knight and Terence Steele both played significant snaps this season, and the offensive line never found any continuity.

With two All-Pro’s like Smith and Martin healthy, a Pro Bowl level tackle like Collins back on the field, and rookie Tyler Biadasz continuing to develop (also missed time with a hamstring injury), Elliott will have much better blocking than he did this season which will lead to better results on the field.

Rebuilding his reputation

In Elliott’s first three seasons, he won two rushing titles (2016, 2018) and led the league in rushing yards per game (2017) even while serving a six-game suspension in the one season he didn’t up to that point. Surprisingly, the rumblings of Elliott’s demise started even after a highly productive 2019 campaign. An anonymous coach ranked Elliott the 11-best running hack in the league, claiming that he was only 60 or 70 percent of what he once was.

Elliott took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with that particular take.

No Title

Whoever that is, is faded lol https://t.co/mCqdYv1U2a

After the season Elliott had in 2020, those rumblings have gotten even louder, to the point that some are even suggesting that the Cowboys signing him to a six-year, $90 million dollar contract in 2019 was a mistake and it may be time to move on from him and give the keys to Tony Pollard.

This is all the motivation Elliott needs heading into next season. After one down year, it seems as if Elliott’s production in his first four seasons has been forgotten by many. Now, he has the opportunity to put the naysayers in their place and regain the respect he had for so long. This doesn’t guarantee he’ll have a great season in 2021, he still has to do it on the field, but it doesn’t mean it won’t fuel him to have a bounce-back season either.

Elliott is still one of the best running backs in the game from an all-around standpoint (running, receiving, blocking). With the doubters at an all-time high, will he rise to the occasion and get his respect back? We shall see but if I was a betting man, I’d say yes.

What do you think?

Matthew Lenix

Written by Matthew Lenix

I write dope stuff about the Dallas Cowboys and what not.

Comments

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  1. Elliott has been less every year since 2016 . His regression is not new. Since only a few teams use a feature back, winning the rushing title is not significant. Elliott ranked around #38 running back in 2019 and ranks around #40 in 2020 . .Backs do not get better around year 5, so there is no reason to expect the #40 back in the league to do anything but continue downward. In 2020, given his opportunity to take over without Dak, Elliott had his most fumbles, worst receiving, and fewest yards after contact. All those are his individual stats independent of the line.
    Elliott is a slow, power back who simply is not elite at all except for his massive overpaid contract.

  2. The facts are in this new NFL committee backfields are the new normal. RBs take a beating from the first time they enter the league and already have mileage from College and High School. I think throwing Pollard into the mix more will help Zeke very more effective. I believe Zeke will be the last big contract for a pure running back. I know McCaffrey and Kamara got big deals but they are more dual threats than Zeke is.

  3. I would love to see EE bounce back to his old self, but I think if one looks at his last TWO YEARS, he does not have the same consistent burst and his long speed is pretty much gone. First three years he was GREAT, NO DOUBT. Last two….

    Just the way I see it. Hope I am wrong, because I like Zeke. He does seem to give his all, which is admirable.

  4. The fact of the matter as VAM pointed out is that injured O-Line and injured QB doesn’t explain Zeke’s lack of break away speed and lack of burst through the hole the last 2 seasons compared to his first 3 seasons and even college year’s ,

    RBs don’t hardly last anymore , LOOK AT TODD GURLEY , he was just in MVP convo like just 3-4 years ago , now he gets hurt , arthritic knees apparently , and the Rams didn’t trade him , THEY KICKED HIM TO THE CURB , Falcons pick him up and Rams get Akers , which team do you think is happier with their RB rn ?

    The point is that who’s to say Zeke will get bounce back ? I hope he does bounce back but with the example of Gurley as well as MANY other RBs just of recency , I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE HE WILL BOUNCE BACK

  5. Jerry Jones has to admit he blew those negotiations with Zeke. He should have left him sit throughout the year. Time for him to cut Zeke loose, so that we can retain Dak. Cant afford bothof them, and have a balanced overall team.

  6. If you cut him, you have a ton of dead money. If you keep him, you have a running back that looks like he’s running on two flat tires and you still have a running back with way to much money tied up in him. I always object to keeping a player “at the right price.” I don’t think there is a right price for a slow, fumble machine. His numbers have consistently gone down. Cut bait, move on, learn your lesson. If you have dead money for years, maybe it will be a reminder not to do these type of contracts. Good Lord, just think how many good players this team could have afforded for the same $ 90,000,000 they are paying EE. Maybe the defense could have afforded real playmakers on that side of the ball with that $90,000,000 instead of reclimation projects on one year contracts hoping to strike Brady gold only to see them leave in free agency the next season. Time to tell his agent that his deal is going to be renegotiated, not “restructured.”

  7. And, after our bitch session is completed, EE will be penciled in as the starter because of the money he is being paid. At the very minimum, he should have to earn the job because he didn’t show anything this last season. In fact, he down right hurt the team with his poor play and lack of ball security way more than anybody should have been left in the position to do. Make him earn his playing time but they won’t. He’s already the starter and will remain so.

  8. Barry Sanders. Now, that was an elite running back that was extremely productive behind a terrible offensive line. I don’t see any of that in EE.

  9. I think as a rule of thumb u should never resign a RB to a 2nd contract. There are exceptions but not many. A RBs best and most productive years are yrs 1-4. Why would you then turn around and resign them to a huge contract for what will turn out to be their least productive years?

    Part of the problem is Jerry doesn’t approach signings as a pure business man and lets his emotions dictate his decisions too much. He forms close relationships with his players, shows loyalty and has favorites. On the surface this would seem to be an admirable quality. However, Business wise it has led to many ILL ADVISED decisions, with the Zeke signing being one of his worst in recent memory.

    T. Crawford
    Ha Ha Dix
    G McCoy
    D. Poe

    Other recent examples of poor signings by Jerry. Take a few of those away, especially Zeke and u got plenty of money for Dak. Jerry is the common denominator here. A competent GM is absolutely vital in constructing and maintaining a competitive team year in and year out. Might wanna project some of that Dak anger over to Jerry.

  10. So just how bad is Prescott if Defensive Coordinators around the league opt to scheme against the #40 running back instead of Dak?! NextGenSiempre strikes again!

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