Since his rookie season in 2016, All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott has been the engine that makes the Dallas Cowboys offense, and team for that matter, operate at a high level. No running back has carried the ball more, produced more rushing yards or total yards from scrimmage per game than Elliott over that span. Now, with new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, the Cowboys are showing that they can also hurt teams by attacking through the air to set up the run, which makes them a much more difficult offense to stop.
Prior to the season opener, Elliott only had a few practices due to his contract holdout. Like years past, he had a pedestrian performance with 53 yards, but it didn’t matter. Dak Prescott put on one of the best performances of his career going 25 of 32 for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. Albeit against the New York Giants, this was the first glimpse of the Cowboys offensive philosophy adding a new dimension.
Week 2 was a continuation of the season opener when the Cowboys went on the road to face the Washington Redskins. The numbers tell you that Elliott had 111 yards on 23 carries. However, late in the fourth quarter Elliott only had 84 yards on 22 carries until he broke a 27-yard run to ice the game. Meanwhile, Prescott was on fire all game long as he tied his career-high with 18 consecutive completions (14 of 14 in the second half) en route to 269 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Cowboys improved to 2-0.
Week 3 was a step back to the norm we’ve seen from the Cowboys offense in the past against the Miami Dolphins. The first half was ugly for the offense in a 10-6 ball game, but Elliott was the one bright spot. He would gain 86 yards on 13 carries before halftime as Prescott and the aerial assault took a while to get going. By games end, Prescott threw for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns as they blew the game open in the second half outscoring the Dolphins 21-0 on their way to a 31-6 victory. Elliott finished with 125 yards on 19 carries (rookie Tony Pollard also added 103 yards) as the run game provided the spark for the offense.
Last Sunday in New Orleans, there was no spark from either side of the ball. Elliott scored the games only touchdown but only managed 35 yards on 18 carries. Prescott was 22 of 33 for 223 yards but didn’t produce any touchdowns. These types of games happen in the league from time to time and you simply have to brush it off and regroup.
This Sunday the Green Packers come to do town having defeated the Cowboys three consecutive times in Dallas and having won seven of the previous eight games in this rivalry. The Packers are arguably the leagues worst run defense in the first month of the season. Will Elliott set the tone on the ground? Will Prescott come out guns blazing through the air to set up run? It will be interesting to see what formula works in this game but fortunately for Cowboys, they can control games with Elliott or Prescott these days.