If there was one surprising thing that came out of the 20-19 loss to the New York Giants for the Dallas Cowboys, it had to be the performance of the running game.
I don’t know about you, but I was chomping at the bit to finally get to see Ezekiel Elliott, who by the way was highly touted coming out of Ohio State.
I think we all envisioned him taking a hand off and completely imposing his will against the Giants defense. I don’t think anyone would have predicted how much he would struggle.
Of course, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan didn’t do him any favors by repeatedly testing the strength of the Giants defense by calling running plays designed to attack the middle. I mean, why would you continually run at the Giants defensive lineman that are both around 320 pounds each (scratches head while pondering).
Elliott also has to share the blame though. The majority of his runs he showed his impatience and did not allow the blocking to develop.
This is a trait that is difficult for rookies sometimes, but something I expect the Cowboys’ coaching staff to point out when watching film and have him work on.
Elliott finished the night with 20 rushing attempts for just 51 rushing yards, but was able to find the end zone on arguably his best run of the game.
Alfred Morris however looked the better of the two running backs, and it was because of his willingness to let the blocks develop. On just seven rushing attempts he had 35 total rushing yards.
The numbers for Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris are nothing like we would have expected, but fortunately I can almost guarantee you that things will improve.
The running game WILL improve against the Redskins
If you doubt that the Dallas Cowboys running game won’t improve against the Washington Redskins in Week 2, then I guess you missed the Redskins Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers offense and particularly DeAngelo Williams completely imposed their will against the Redskins defense.
Williams finished the night with 20 rushing attempts for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He also had six receptions for 28 yards.
In case you didn’t know, Williams is 33 years old and playing his 11th season in the NFL. He’s not exactly a spring chicken anymore, but still manages to be productive when called upon.
Now, I would argue that both the Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris are better players, but let’s wait and see how they do Sunday afternoon.
Of course, let’s not forget that Antonio Brown also had a “measly” eight receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Hopefully Dez Bryant can have same type of success.
Do you think Scott Linehan took notes?
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line won’t have to worry about two big behemoths clogging up the middle like they did against the New York Giants. The Giants d-line gave the Cowboys problems the entire game and was the main reason the running game struggled.
That shouldn’t be the case with the Redskins defensive line.
The Steelers offensive line isn’t nearly as talented as the Cowboys, so the running game should be a focal point once again.
Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris should see more running lanes open up and have the opportunity to reach the second level of the Redskins defense without hardly being touched.
Plus, the Cowboys’ coaching staff might just have little more inside information than they have had in past years.
Alfred Morris should know the Redskins defense extremely well having practiced against them during his time with the organization. That might just work in the Cowboys favor to know little bit more about their strengths and weaknesses.
You can bet Morris will be playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder after being cut by Washington. Look for him to take advantage of every opportunity.
Do you agree or disagree that the Dallas Cowboys running game will improve?
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