The Cowboys game was ugly on Sunday; we all know that, but when you dive inside the numbers, Ezekiel Elliott averaged just over 5 yards a carry on Sunday. The game never got beyond two scores, and it's not like the Cowboys had to flip the script and continue to pass the football.
Elliott only had 10 carries but ran for 52 yards; if you watched the game, you could see that Dallas had some success on the ground but found themselves behind the chains too many times. The lack of separation from the receivers did not help either.
That said, the run blocking from the thin offensive line looked better than trying to pass protect for Dak Prescott. Now, with him out for several weeks the running game might get leaned on too much, and they could find themselves running with no positive outcome. But Sunday night, Zeke was going to roll if they stuck with it.
Jake Ferguson was on the field trying to help create some running lanes for Zeke on Sunday, so I anticipate seeing him going forward.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott gained between 5 and 7 yards on eight of his 10 carries Sunday vs. Buccaneers. Last year, when limited by knee injury, he went 11 straight games (Weeks 6 to 17) without recording that many gains of 5 or more yards in same outing. Good sign for run game. pic.twitter.com/YlroD18lFP
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 12, 2022
The run game was working, and the football game was within reach until Prescott got hurt, but the defense kept you in it, and Kellen Moore and the offense got away from something that was working just a bit.
It is not like Dallas was chasing a ton of points the entire game; the defense kept them in the thick of it. Yet the Cowboys continued trying to force the ball into unproven wide receivers' hands, and don't even get me started on the two trick plays they tried that put them way behind the chains. Throw those out of the playbook now.
The penalties did them no favors, but the offense had plenty of chances to continue to run the ball between the tackles, and they just flat-out went away from it, right? I don't understand. Moving forward, they will have to slow the game down with Cooper Rush as QB1; Zeke needs more than 10 carries when Jerry Jones said multiple times this offseason that the offense goes as Zeke goes; how does that make sense when he runs the ball only 10 times in the first game of the season?
With insufficient firepower on the outside, teams will dare Rush to throw the football; this might not be ideal.