I typically don't love writing about the “narrative” side of football. I tend to watch the games, evaluate what I see, and try to speak empirically about what's going on on the field. But, with the Ezekiel Elliott suspension becoming official on Thursday, I believe there is a reason to discuss the Dallas Cowboys' psyche going forward.
When it was announced that Elliott would be available for last week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, there was a tangible feeling of confidence among Cowboys Nation. As soon as we heard the news, we all began to believe Dallas could win Sunday, and possibly win with some level of ease.
This feeling seemed to be prevalent among the actual team as well. Elliott has been playing incredibly, and both his effort and his results on the field have been inspiring. When you are blocking for a back like that, you want to make sure you go harder. When you play defense for a team with a running back like that, you want to do your part and not let him nor the offense down.
Now without Ezekiel Elliott going forward, the Cowboys cannot allow their spirits to be deflated. This team has been playing high-level football since the loss to the Rams, and appears to have their stuff together through eight games. The loss of one player cannot derail the focus of this team, even if that player is Ezekiel Elliott.
Earlier this week I discussed Jason Garrett's importance to the Cowboys, as he is done a great job establishing the culture and keeping the Cowboys afloat during times of turbulence. Without Elliott, his ability to lead a football team will once again be tested.
Of course, losing a player of Elliott's caliber would hurt any team's chances of winning football games. But with the culture which seems to have been created in Dallas over the last few seasons, and the leadership on this roster, I don't think Cowboys Nation has much to worry about in terms of that focus.
No, they aren't going to go 6-0, or probably not 5-1 without arguably their best offensive player, but with their quarterback, offensive and defensive lines this team is built to sustain these types of situations.
Everything on the field seems to be going in the right direction for the Cowboys, and if they have any hopes of making the playoffs this season they cannot allow the Elliott suspension to deflate their “momentum.”
Even just staying afloat at 3-3 over the next six should give them a chance to make a late December run for a Wild Card.