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Can Cowboys Passing Game Sustain Without Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin



Can Passing Game Keep Cowboys Afloat Without Ezekiel Elliott?

As things stand right now, the Dallas Cowboys will be without Ezekiel Elliott's services for the next six games. It's a huge blow to the offense, because Elliott has become the centerpiece/focal point and everything feeds off of his production. Without Elliott in the lineup, the Dallas Cowboys are now likely going to have to rely on the passing game, but are they good enough in this area to keep them afloat for the next six weeks?

Yes, I'm well aware that the Dallas Cowboys still have Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden to fill in for Ezekiel Elliott, but they are a huge downgrade. Personally, I think Rod Smith has looked the better of the Cowboys backup RBs, but it's doubtful the coaching staff names him the starter over two proven veterans.

We are going to have to be honest with ourselves. Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, and even Rod Smith can't do what Ezekiel Elliott does. The offense for the Dallas Cowboys is going to suffer as a result of Elliott's suspension and they are going to have to adapt in the meantime. I think that means the passing game needs to improve and quickly.

Dak Prescott and Dez BryantThe passing game for the Dallas Cowboys hasn't exactly been on fire so far this season. There have been far too many times where nearly every receiver has dropped a catchable pass or where Dak Prescott has been off target. That simply can't happen anymore, especially since they don't have Ezekiel Elliott to lean on anymore.

From what I've seen from the Dallas Cowboys passing attack, I don't think they can carry this team in Zeke's absence. That's not to say that they don't have the pieces in place to do that. They just haven't been able to do it on a consistent basis yet.

If you read just about any of my articles pertaining to the Dallas Cowboys offense, then you know all too well my criticism of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's playcalling. I think he is way too predictable and doesn't do enough to put his players in a good enough position to succeed. Life without Zeke is going to make things all that much more difficult for Linehan, but he absolutely has to step up his game.

The best way for the Dallas Cowboys to stay afloat in the NFC East division is for Linehan to figure out a way to make the passing game an extension of the running game. He needs to take a page out of the New England Patriots playbook to see how they utilize their WRs and figure out how to do that with the weapons he has at his disposal.

Dez Bryant, Jason Garrett, Cole BeasleyLuckily, Linehan has Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer. Both WRs are exactly what the Cowboys offense needs to make the passing game an extension of the running game. Beasley and Switzer allow Dak Prescott to get the ball out quickly and pick up yards after the catch. Tom Brady is the master at utilizing his receivers this way and Prescott would be wise to do the same.

Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys offense is definitely going to take a step back without Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup. The good news however is they do have other playmakers who can hopefully replace some of Elliott's production. But, it's going to take a collective effort and I don't know if they are up to the challenge.

This is a situation we are all going to be watching very closely over these next six games. We are all just going to have to hope that this team can come together and stay afloat until Ezekiel Elliott returns.

Do you think the Cowboys can stay afloat without Zeke?

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • Travis Diggs

    The two deciding factors on for this question is Scott linehan’s playcalling and who they use the most in the backfield the most. If you keep the defense guessing and get Rod Smith involved I think you have a chance. I dont believe Alfred Morris is your guy. And maybe a little bit of no huddle. Using all three rbs will keep the defenses guessing

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, you’re absolutely right. Scott Linehan’s playcalling definitely needs to get better. If he doesn’t improve, I don’t think it matters who runs the ball

  • oneputter

    i will also add to the need of calling a good game offensively, its the personnel that is used.
    i fully believe its time to ask witten to step aside and to let swaim take on more of a role in the passing game.

    witten can be used on short yardage plays when first downs are needed. swaim has to be the one to open up the middle of the field, he’s much faster and will keep defenses thinking.

    addtionally, why not use switzer from the slot to stretch the defense, he has to be involved in the passing game.

    finally, dak needs to turn it loose. he’s been holding the ball to long with happy feet. trust the routes, trust the WR’s and let them go get it. i see wr’s open.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t see them phasing out Jason Witten anytime soon. Swaim looks like he can be a threat in the passing game, but we don’t really have a very big sample size. I think we might start to see more Switzer on offense. I’m hoping we see more quick sets by Prescott so that he can get the ball out quicker. Beasley and Switzer in the lineup would allow him to do that. But, this will all depend on how Scott Lenihan adjust without Zeke in the lineup.

      • oneputter

        witten is not scaring the defense anymore, they all know what he is going to do, run to first down marker and sit. his lack of speed more than anything is, IMO, hurting the offense.

        again, not a big sample size because of 82, i’m a huge fan of 82 but there comes a time when the young men need to take over, while the vets play a lesser role.

        i hope we see a lot more of all the WR’s. noah brown needs to be part of this, i think he can be a good one. i don’t remember a game where both 10 and 11 were on the field together.

        yep all on SL at this point, i agree.

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t disagree at all. Jason Witten isn’t a threat after the catch, but I just don’t see them making that kind of move unless he’s injured. And, I’m a huge fan of Noah Brown. I think he could easily replace Williams. I also think we will start to see a lot more of Beasley and Switzer with Elliott out. They could be an extension of the running game, much like the Patriots do with their WRs.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I see that comment a lot about Lineman and his play calling. Players still have to make plays and our O-line is finally in synche. The run game, as a result is also getting better. The simple truth is we run the ball. We run downhill. We are easy to figure out. We are not Andy Reid with a ton of gizmo/gadget plays. I did like the one by Linehan, last year, with Dak/Dez to Witten. It would be great to see that one again or a few others. Gimme a couple of those in a game. Still, I think we will see some changes w/o Zeke because the Cowboys can’t lean on him for awhile. I believe Lineman will be up to the task. Last year, he had to redial everything for Dak, when Tony went down. We forget that those adjustments were week to week as Dak progressed. We will see if Lineman can be flexible and adjust to this change. I really want to see Alfred Morris and Rod Smith as the dynamic dual. Alfred softens them up and Rod, at 6’3″-240, becomes the beast. Everyone is saying what about Rod on Special teams. I say put D-Mac on Special Teams. The guy has been inactive all year. People be trippin’ if they think he will be able to just jump in and take over.Teams aren’t prepared for Rod Smith. No film. D-Mac may have fresh legs and may be a veteran, but C’mon. Let him chase down Tyreek and Hunt…that will test those fresh legs.

    • Brian Martin

      These next six games are going to be huge for Linehan as a play caller. He absolutely has to step up his game and I think we are all hoping he does just that.

  • dallas1966

    Brian, another excellent article. Coach Linehan, will need to be the second coming of Coach Landry. THE Cowboys, have a library with tons of tape on Coach Landry multiple offense, IN addition, to using some of today’s college football spread offense concepts, he has the players in The Bease, Switzer, and Brice Butler, TO pull it off, it’s going to very interesting, these next six weeks, without Zeke, on how innovative Coach Linehan, will be now that’s it’s official that Zeke will be put on the shelf for six weeks. I know for one, the Cowboys need a Tight End, to threaten the deep seem routes, Witten can no longer provide that presences, like a jimmy graham. Keep up the great job Brian.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for the compliment. I try to write about things that my readers not only find interesting, but what they may be thinking. Linehan did a good job last week getting some of the other WRs against the Chiefs, but he has to continue to find innovative and creative ways to do that now with Zeke out of the lineup. He has the personnel to do so, but he has to find a way to play to each individuals strengths. Hopefully he’s able to do that because the Cowboys have a tough stretch ahead of themselves. They play three games in 11 days.

Star Blog

Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?

Kevin Brady



Sean's Scout: Defense Comes Alive In Loss At LA Rams 2
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.

It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.

Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.

Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.

This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.

Calvin Watkins on Twitter

Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.

Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."

Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.

It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.

Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.

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Star Blog

Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.

Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.

The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.

Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.

The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.

For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.

Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to  square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.

For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.

Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC" 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!

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival

Mauricio Rodriguez



Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.

Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.

Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.

T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.

Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.

Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.

Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.

Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.

Lo más importante de este partido...

Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.

Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.

Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival" 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!

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