There is no denying Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best, if not the best, running back in the entire NFL. He's just one of those special players that makes things happen anytime he has the ball in his hands. Unfortunately, he didn't really look like himself in 2017, but I'm expecting him to completely rebound this season and absolutely dominate.
The Dallas Cowboys offensive mindset in 2018 will once again incorporate a run first mentality. That means Ezekiel Elliott will be the focal point of the offense and his success or failure could end up determining how the Cowboys season turns out.
With that in mind, I thought I would share with you three reasons why I believe Zeke will return to his dominant form in 2018, and quite possibly be better than we have ever seen him. Continue reading below to see why we should be excited about Ezekiel Elliott this season.
At no point in 2017 did Ezekiel Elliott look like the player we are accustomed to seeing. In the games he did play, he looked almost lethargic to the point it looked as if he was just going through the motions. I think that had a lot to do with the pending suspension hanging over his head, which probably had more of an effect on him then he admitted.
It had to be an emotional roller coaster to go through such an ordeal, especially when you're trying to clear your name. There's no way it wouldn't take a toll on someone, especially for a well-known professional athlete who plays for one of the most recognizable sports teams in the world. It was a burden that weighed him down last season.
With all that behind him now, I believe the 2016 rushing leader, Ezekiel Elliott, will once again return to his dominant form. I think we will see him bouncing around and having fun once again like he did his rookie season. That should equate to much better production and help fuel the Dallas Cowboys offense, who will once again have a run first mentality.
If you don't think Ezekiel Elliott is out to prove something in 2018 after everything he went through last season, then you've got another thing coming. He believes, as do I, that he was unfairly targeted by the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. In fact, he should be completely outraged that they have done nothing regarding current San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ruben Foster and his domestic violence situation.
Because of all of that, I believe Zeke is going to run a little bit extra angry throughout the 2018 season. He wants to distance himself from the "domestic abuser" label the NFL pretty much forced on him last year, and the best way to do that is by dominating on the field.
I have no doubt that he will be zeroed in this season and look much more like the player we saw in 2016. He will also be expected to be a leader of this team, which is a role I believe he will not only embrace, but excel at. It's that renewed focus that should propel him into dominance once again.
Upgraded Offensive Line
The best way to make Ezekiel Elliott even better is to improve the blocking in front of him. That is exactly what the Dallas Cowboys did when they drafted Connor Williams with their second-round draft pick. Williams' addition could possibly make the Cowboys offensive line the best it has ever been, which should make Elliott giddy with anticipation.
Connor Williams will not only be an upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at left guard last season (Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper), but has the ability to be even better than Ronald Leary. Leary was without a doubt the best of the three, which is why the Cowboys OL was the best when he was their starting LG. But, Williams has better movement/agility to make blocks Leary struggled making.
Williams is a much better player in space than any LG the Cowboys have had at their disposal, and he plays with power as well. His skill set will allow them to do anything they want as far as the blocking scheme goes in both the running and passing game. His addition will make Zeke a much better player as a runner, but also as a receiver as well on screens, which we should see much more of this season.
Do you think Ezekiel Elliott will be more dominant in 2018?
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Will Cowboys OT La’el Collins Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
3 Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys Offense
Player News2 weeks ago
A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
2019 Player Watch: Cowboys Should Keep an eye on Kyle Rudolph’s Situation
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Will Cowboys S Jeff Heath Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Will Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
5 Pre-draft Moves Cowboys Should Consider Making in Free Agency
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Uncertainties Surrounding The Cowboys Offseason