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Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley’s Careers are Looking Eerily Similar

Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley’s careers look eerily similar.

It’s strange what you can come across when doing a little research. Sometimes the things you turn up are a pleasant surprise, while others are probably left undiscovered. The latter is what happened to me when I was comparing Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley’s careers to date in the NFL.

Blame it on my curiosity, but I was curious to find out if Ezekiel Elliott’s sudden dip in production in 2020 was anything like what led to Todd Gurley’s release from the Los Angeles Rams last year. Surprisingly enough, the similarities are eerily similar.

If you were to look at how Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley performed while under their rookie contracts you’d discover two absolutely dominant players during that time span. Both players even performed up to standards the year they signed their big money contracts. The season after however is another story.

In 2019, the year after Todd Gurley signed his extension with the Rams, his production took a huge dip. He went from averaging 4.9 yards per carry to 3.8 and 1,251 rushing yards to 857. Believe it or not, but Ezekiel Elliott looks to be following in Gurley’s footsteps.

Ezekiel Elliott
Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott averaged 4.5 yards per carry last year, but has dropped to 3.9 this season. It’s also looking as if he’s not going to come anywhere close to the 1,357 rushing yards he accumulated last season. The way things are going right now he will be lucky to hit the 1,000-yard mark this year.

Now, that’s pretty scary to think about from a statistics standpoint. There is no doubt reason to be concerned about No. 21’s lack of production this year, but the Dallas Cowboys don’t need to panic just yet. There are plenty of contributing factors that could explain his down season.

First and foremost all of the injuries to the offensive line and QB Dak Prescott have negatively impacted the running game. Also playing from behind in nearly every game this season didn’t help either, nor did Kellen Moore’s pass happy playcalling. Add it up and there’s still hope for Zeke.

Unlike Todd Gurley, Zeke doesn’t look washed up. Although statistically their careers may look eerily similar No. 21 still looks as if he has plenty of gas left in the tank. That’s great news considering how much the Dallas Cowboys have invested in him and need his services moving forward.

With that in mind, don’t expect the Dallas Cowboys to part ways with Zeke like the Los Angeles Rams with Todd Gurley. He is and will continue to be a big part of the organization for the foreseeable future. Let’s just hope 2020 was just an off year for him.

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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  1. Agree Brian, I think Zeke may still have some gas left. That first game against Rams he looked good, showed a pretty good burst, and in a couple of others, but the consistency overall all is not there. But you can make a case, I suppose, for the O line disarray/injuries have been a contributing factor to that problem. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, as the team as a whole hasn’t been good for a myriad of reasons. With that said, and questions marks popping up, I would not mind bringing in some competition for that position thru draft or possibly FA. I know Pollard is obviously there also, but is he a bell cow type? Any thoughts on Pollard being the MAN going forward if need be.

    • I think Tony Pollard would do well as the lead back for the Cowboys if he got the chance. I actually believe he fits in better if Kellen Moore remains the OC.

  2. Brian- OL issues notwithstanding I haven’t seen anything from Zeke that tells me he isn’t an average back right now.
    His lack of burst (even when he has a hole) is obvious even to the untrained eye. He’s strictly a power runner now.

    RBs typically have about 5 good years in them and then u usually see a sharp decline. Thats why giving ur RB a 2nd contract usually doesn’t pay dividends. I hope I’m wrong because we’re stuck with that contract for a few more years.

    The Framk Gore’s and the Adrian Peterson’s are an aberration. Rarely do they last that long.

    • I’m still holding out hope Zeke is still the same guy he has been. I haven’t seen it consistently this season, but there are flashes of his burst and power. We are just going to have to wait and see what he looks like next season with a healthy offensive line in front of him once again.

  3. The running game starts with a dominant Offensive Line!! This Offensive Line needs to be rebuilt thru this coming draft and some pieces from Free Agency if within price range!!! Than rebuilt the Secondary!+! Use Pollard more as starting running back!!!

    • I don’t think the OL needs to be rebuilt. They just need to get healthy. If everybody can stay healthy next season the OL will be above average. The Cowboys might want to start thinking about finding Tyron Smith’s replacement sooner rather than later though.

  4. I love my Cowboys, but signing him to a 90 million $ contract was stupid,I think they should part ways with him first chance available but thst wont come for another 2- 3 years

  5. Running back by committee is the NFL of today, you can get a group of guys who all have specialized skills and also use them in the Special Teams Units. I coached against Zeke in HS in St. Louis, he already put a ton of miles on before going to Ohio State. Wish we could unload him like we did Herschel Walker.

  6. Zeke will be fine. He doesn’t trust his offensive line at this point. He hasn’t adjust as well as Pollard, but he never had Pollard’s speed anyway. It’s a big if for the offensive line to be healthy, but if they are healthy next year,Zeke will dominate. I have no worries about that. Everyone wants to write Tyron off and for who? No guarantee on drafting Sewell, and if we did I would out him at left guard. It would be Smith, Sewell,Biadzs,Martin, and Collins. Monster line…

  7. Agree Brian, the O-line just need to get healthy. Collins, Martin, Tyler/Looney, Williams, Smith when healthy, is a pretty darn good lineup. Smith is somewhat of a question mark because he has been injury prone of late. Erving/Knight have been serviceable to back LT. Sooner than later on replacement there is prudent.

  8. Looney and Erving are FAs. Maybe we can resign one of them cheap. Williams will be FA after next year and it seems that he is always regarded as our weak link. McGovern has looked solid and Tyler looks like he could be a keeper. Knight has some upside and the jury is still out on Steele. But our two best O-linemen have injury issues, especially Smith.

    Appears that there are still alot of question marks. If Smith can play most of the games and Collins regains his form then we’ll be alright, if not then we could have to start shuffling our line again.

    I expect them to draft a o-linemen, maybe with one of their 3rd rd picks and hopefully resign Looney or Erving.

  9. Zeke has definitely been a different player since signing his big contract. He is not particularly elusive, has trouble holding onto the ball and really is not much of a hammer either. For whatever reason he really does not offer much in the passing game either, but that I lay more at the feet of offensive system. Dallas has never been very efficient at using their running backs in the passing game. With the way Zeke’s contract is structured they are pretty much stuck with him for the time being. I think the best we can hope for as fans is that the line is healthy next year. The guys that will be backing up Collins and Smith this year have gained some valuable experience and the unit will be better for it next year. Another factor impacting the run game is the lack of deep passing. Since Dak went down there have not been many shots down field. With Dak presumably back next year, Collins and Smith healthy and the threat of Jarwin streaking down the seam and the trio of receivers Dallas has maybe the pressure lessens for the running game. We never saw this offense the way it was supposed to look this year. Zeke occupies a lot of cap space and definitely needs a rebound year next year, but the offense is not the problem to focus on next year it is regaining some authority on defense.

  10. totally disagree. He should have never received that greedy contract in year 3 of 5. He looks slow and plodding, even worse than last year. Only 2 rushes over 20 yards all year and his backup looks like Barry Sanders after watching Elliot for a few plays of boring 3 yard falling forward. He leads the league in fumbles and you can’t blame that on the OL. Besides, no one was bringing his stats down to earth when he was playing with 4 all pros on the OL before. Now he plays with an OL more in line with the rest of the league and he looks like the rest of the league’s backups – he is an NFL RB – congrats. But he is an NFL jag and is the most overpaid back in the league by far. Dump this dude in a trade, if anyone is dumb enough to sign him up and agree to take on any piece of his ridiculous contract. Thanks, JJ – no one saw this coming LOL

  11. All you guys talking about Zeke is washed up and “looks different” don’t know football. Disappointed in y’all who obviously are oblivious to a battered O-line, offense that loves to air raid and just a poor performance without Dak. A running backs ability starts with his O-line and Zeke clearly doesn’t have that this year. Plus Dallas has added years to Zeke’s career by helping him share the load with Pollard, where he didn’t have any help his first 3 years. Use your heads guys. Know the sport.

  12. You don’t have to be a football savant to see that Elliott simply doesn’t have his burst to hit the hole quick. Watch Pollard hit the hole then watch Zeke. Does the OL affect his performance, well yea it does for any back. Sadly though the OL can’t make him quicker, faster or more elusive.

    RBs decline quickly and Zeke’s decline appears to have come a little quicker than most. Unfortunately his lack of performance coupled with his big contract makes him more of a liability than anything.

    Two big lessons to be learned NEVER draft a RB high in the 1st rd and NEVER sign them to a 2nd contract. 20 yrs and the Patriots never had even a top ten back. It was always RB by committee and use ur resources on more important positions. A good OL can make any back look good.

  13. quit blaming the OL and no Dak for Zeke being garbage. then, why make him the highest paid RB if he’s only at that level with an All-Pro line? Zeke shows no fire, with or without the ball. you watch him and it looks like his mind is somewhere else. he can only go about 3 snaps before he’s gassed.

    Zeke may be a serviceable back going forward, but his days of being on the elite level are done.

  14. Zeke’s and Todd’s numbers would look earily similar if the situation was the same. Todd has osteoarthritis likely caused when he blew his knee out in college. This is a case of either clueless writing or clickbait sensationalism. Or possibly Pollard’s marketing team trying to prop him up.

    Tony Pollard looks exactly like Joseph Randle. Very good as a backup going against a softened up defense. He’s good for the occasional big play, just like Randle was. He’s not a player that can shoulder a big load though.

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