2014 was such an important year for the Dallas Cowboys. It was the foundation season for Jason Garrett's process showing overwhelming results, as the Cowboys ran all over the league – literally – on their way to a NFC East title, Wild Card playoff win, and eventual elimination at the hands of
Dean Blandino the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Playoffs.
This process has stood tall through the departure of the running back that was the engine for the 2014 Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, who benefited the most the mass of assets Dallas placed in their world-beating offensive line.
While the Cowboys' 2015 campaign was far from one to be proud of, the 4-12 debacle that it was did allow the team to do even more at the running back position – using their fourth overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott.
With Elliott, the Cowboys had a resurgence like none other (setting a franchise record for the biggest turnaround in wins), while Murray equally resurrected his career with the Tennessee Titans. It's safe to say that both backs have found ideal situations at different stages in their careers, and looking back at how the cards fell for the Cowboys to eventually transition from Murray – still America's Team's record holder for single season rushing yards – to Elliott.
Both preparing to carry the rock for the NFC Pro Bowl team, DeMarco Murray had this to say about his rushing record of 1,845 yards in 2014 being broken in the future by Zeke Elliott:
“He'll get it someday. That ain't gonna last too long.”
Elliott put up 1,631 yards in his first season with the Cowboys, just 214 yards shy of Murray's record. In a week 16 win against the Lions, Elliott saw just 12 carries, roughly nine fewer than his rounded average of 21 per game. Despite this limited workload, as the Cowboys had already clinched everything possible for the NFC Playoffs, Elliott made the most of these 12 carries to gash the Lions for 80 yards – or a whopping 6.7 yards per carry!
This means that solely on projections, Elliott was on pace for 144 yards in his final regular season home game of 2016. While this becomes somewhat of an irrelevant point considering the fact that Ezekiel Elliott came out in a hoodie for the glorified preseason game that was week 17 in Philadelphia, he would have needed just 70 yards using this projection to break DeMarco Murray's record.
“As running backs we're supposed to run the ball but I'm really impressed with his catching ability and blocking. Those are two things for me, where I got a lot of respect for him.”
All in just his first season running and catching the ball for America's Team, the sky is truly the limit for Elliott, who not only expects to rewrite his name over DeMarco Murray's in the Dallas Cowboys' record books – but do so sometime soon, and then continue to show the NFL just how dominant he can become.
Ezekiel Elliott was told DeMarco Murray said he'll eventually break Murray's 1,845 single-season Cowboys record. Zeke: "That's the plan."
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 26, 2017