After an offseason that produced a successful NFL draft and what most believed was a productive free agency period, the Dallas Cowboys were expected to win the NFC East in 2020. Injuries derailed their season from the beginning, but one of the most alarming aspects of the Cowboys from a season ago was the struggles of Ezekiel Elliott.
He averaged a career-low in yards per rush (4.0) and yards per game (65.3) and had a career-high in fumbles (6) while failing to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in a full season. After the first down campaign of his career, the pressure for Elliott to return to the elite group of running backs begin immediately, and Elliott is already getting back in the lab.
— J.Hicks (@3hunnidGuru) March 7, 2021
Elliott has all the motivation in the world to get back to being mentioned as one of the best at his position, and it started during the 2020 offseason. When Elliott was ranked as the third-best running back by ESPN, an anonymous coach ranked Elliott the 11-best runner with this explanation why.
“Very few breakout runs, doesn’t look as strong anymore. Feels like he’s about 60 to 70 percent of what he was.”
This was a surprising take considering Elliott was fourth in rushing (1,357), fourth in rushing touchdowns (12), second in all-purpose yards (1,777), and first in 100-yard games (7) in 2019. The rumblings of Elliott's demise have gotten so loud this offseason that some have gone as far as to suggest that the Cowboys should part ways with him after the worst season of his five-year career.
Elliott had two major roadblocks going against him last season with Dak Prescott and several members of the offensive line missing major time. With Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La'el Collins back healthy, and the return of a newly signed Prescott as of Monday, nothing is holding Elliott back from being his regular 1,300/1,400-yard self in 2021.