More

    Are the Dallas Cowboys Letting Ego Affect Offensive Play-Calling?

    There is a lot to complain about after the ' loss last night to the . But what seems to be the most universally reviled topic is Dallas' stubborn use of Ezekiel Elliott and the run game, and I can't help but wonder if it stems from an ego-driven need to validate Zeke's new contract.

    Just before the start of the regular season, the Cowboys made Elliott the NFL's highest-paid at $15 million per year. There was no lack of criticism for this decision; many argued that the modern pass-happy NFL doesn't need RBs paid at the franchise level. There were also some direct concerns about Zeke and his ability to endure as a top-tier runner, avoid personal conduct issues, or both.

    After nine games in the Elliott has given Dallas a decent return on their investment. He is currently ranked sixth in rushing yards per game despite the team's move to a more pass-focused . And though it will take doing, Zeke could still make up the roughly 200-yard distance between league leaders and .

    Even while is set to have a career-high in passing attempts the Cowboys are still committed to getting Ezekiel Elliott his touches. And that's not bad; you don't spend a 4th-overall draft pick and huge cap dollars on a guy you don't plan to make a focal point of your offense.

    But last Sunday night, we saw Dallas keep trying to fit a Zeke-shaped peg into a Dak-shaped hole.

    The Vikings were helpless against the Cowboys' passing attack all game long; Prescott, , and were having their way with Minnesota's . Meanwhile, Zeke had one of the worst days of his career with only 2.35 yards-per-carry; the lowest production rate he's ever had when getting 20 rushing attempts or more.

    Ezekiel Elliott, Vikings
    Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

    Over the course of an entire game you can't completely throw out the run or pass portions of the playbook. You still have to keep the honest in either scenario.

    And, to be fair, you can understand why Dallas thought Zeke would eventually get it going. After the Vikings got shredded by the Cowboys' most of the night, you would assume they'd eventually start devoting more resources to air defense.

    Throughout his time in Dallas, Elliott's best work has often come in the second half. His physical style, coupled with the Cowboys' typically dominant , is especially brutal for opposing defenses later in games when fatigue sets in.

    So yes, the formula was seemingly there for Zeke to break loose. As onlookers, we were as perplexed as I'm sure the Cowboys themselves were at the lack of success Elliott and the run game had as the night went on.

    But at a certain point we saw the need to adjust strategy. And as Zeke kept getting repeatedly stymied by the Minnesota defense, the outcry on and in living rooms and sports bars got louder by the carry.

    And yet the Cowboys wouldn't relent. They wouldn't admit defeat.

    - Advertisement -

    Then the final drive came, and despite Dak Prescott playing perhaps the best game of his career the Cowboys handed it to Zeke on 2nd down and 3rd down for -3 yards. He went nowhere or backwards, just like we'd seen most of the night.

    And in the end, that stubbornness may have cost them the game.

    Time for Jerry Jones to Play Hardball in Ezekiel Elliott Negotiations?
    Cowboys Owner &

    What concerns me about that loss, and how it unfolded on offense, is that stubborn refusal to adjust strategy. Zeke never should've gotten to 20 carries given how poorly they all went; his longest of the night was only six yards. The run game clearly wasn't working, and leaning on it in those crucial final moments bordered on the cliche definition of insanity.

    The concern is that Dallas feels the need to justify Zeke's contract so badly that it's going to distort offensive strategy. And if that does exist, it probably comes from up top.

    Jerry Jones has done a lot of great, wonderful things in his ownership and management of the Dallas Cowboys. But it's perfectly fair to say that he allows ego to interfere with logic at times.

    has won way more games than he's lost since becoming Cowboys . But he's prideful; Garrett often references personal and team pride in his public conversations. And he's also proudly loyal to traditional football methodology.

    and have done awesome work in their increased handling of the Cowboys' football operations. But rest assured, they also have ego. McClay helped scout Zeke and all of these offensive linemen. Stephen had a huge part in negotiating their big contracts. Their reputations are also tied to the team's success.

    I'm not saying that the Joneses or anyone else has handed down an edict on when and how Ezekiel Elliott should be used. I certainly don't think Jerry was in 's ear on Sunday night.

    But decision making has many layers, some active and some passive. Even subconsciously, our choices in the heat of the moment are driven by many factors.

    Kellen may have been trying to play chess against checkers, calling the run in the face of all logic in the hopes that it would catch Minnesota off . But maybe also in that decision was the thought that Zeke is the team's most proven offensive weapon, the reigning NFL rushing champion, and that Moore didn't want to be the guy who didn't give Elliott a chance to do his thing.

    I may be grasping at straws here, but I'm just trying to find the logic behind what went down on Sunday night. Because even the more casual football fan could see that Dallas had decision-making disasters throughout that game.

    Whatever caused the lapse in judgment, hopefully all involved learned their lesson.

    spot_imgspot_imgspot_img
    Jess Haynie
    Jess Haynie
    Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

    Latest

    3 Keys To Victory – Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Commanders

    After starting the season in the worst way possible,...

    Cowboys vs Commanders Game Prediction

    This weekend, the Dallas Cowboys will be hosting the...

    Week 4 Preview: Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys

    The 2-and-1 Dallas Cowboys are back home tomorrow against...

    Cowboys WR Noah Brown Is Solidifying His Value

    With back-to-back clutch performances against the Cincinnati Bengals and...

    Newsletter

    Daily Cowboys News in Your Inbox
    Name:*
    Your email address:*
    Please enter all required fields Click to hide
    Correct invalid entries Click to hide

    Don't miss

    3 Keys To Victory – Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Commanders

    After starting the season in the worst way possible,...

    Cowboys vs Commanders Game Prediction

    This weekend, the Dallas Cowboys will be hosting the...

    Week 4 Preview: Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys

    The 2-and-1 Dallas Cowboys are back home tomorrow against...

    Cowboys WR Noah Brown Is Solidifying His Value

    With back-to-back clutch performances against the Cincinnati Bengals and...

    How Kellen Moore Has Redeemed Himself

    During week one, the Dallas Cowboys faced off against...

    3 Keys To Victory – Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Commanders

    After starting the season in the worst way possible, to then losing Dak Prescott for what many thought at the time was going to...

    Cowboys Rushing Attack Finds Their Mojo in Victory Over the Giants

    The Cowboys went on the road Monday night and won their second straight game without Dak Prescott. The defense was again dominant, and CeeDee...

    Halftime Report: Cowboys Show Flashes on Both Sides, Lead Giants 6-3

    After two quarters on Monday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys lead the New York Giants 6-3. While the score indicates a low-scoring affair, the...

    1 COMMENT

    1 Comment
    Oldest
    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    BeirutWedding

    I disagree only in that I have no problem with giving Zeke the ball. I have a problem with how they give Zeke the ball. And when. Throw on first. Give Zeke the ball all over the field. On screens. On wheel routes. On slants. Use Pollard and Zeke both all the time. They get set and then don’t want to change the more things go wrong. It’s very frustrating.

    It’s time to admit that with Dak, Amari, Gallup and Cobb, throwing the ball is now what this team does best. In fact, the offensive line even blocks better for the pass than they do for the run. Time to be a pass-first team. If you do that, watch Zeke earn his $90 million just the same.