Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott Could Have Record-Breaking 2018 Season

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Ezekiel Elliott

It's been 34 years since Eric Dickerson ran for 2,105 yards, setting a single-season rushing record that has only been rarely flirted with since. Could Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the best running back in the NFL in 2018, have a shot at breaking Dickerson's mark?

The magic number is 131.6 yards. That's the per-game average needed, over 16 games, to break the record.

Three guys have come within a hundred yards of Dickerson: Adrian Peterson in 2012, Jamal Lewis in 2003, and Barry Sanders in 1997. And despite the difference in today's game versus some of their eras, we can take something positive from each when it comes to Zeke's chances.

We'll start with Sanders in '97, who was 29 years old and playing in his ninth season when he had his career-best year. That's hard to believe, but Barry was pretty special.

Thankfully, Elliott looks pretty special, too. Even better, we don't have to worry about him beating Father Time anytime soon.  Zeke will be just 23 this season.

In 2003, Jamal Lewis produced big numbers despite a crappy quarterback carousel of Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, and Chris Redman. Lewis got handed the ball a whopping 387 times that year.

If Elliott gets that many carries in 2018, record-breaking potential is there. What's more, he'll hopefully have more of a passing threat with Dak Prescott at QB than what Lewis worked with in Baltimore.

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 4

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Now, you could certainly argue that Sanders and Lewis were from different eras of football, before the passing game became so prominent. There's truth to that, it doesn't explain Adrian Peterson's 2012 season.

With 2097 rushing yards that year, Peterson was just nine yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's record. He did it on 348 carries, which comes out to a 6.0 average.

There's no denying that 6.0 is a pretty daunting number. Even in his dazzling rookie season, Elliott averaged just 5.1 yards.

There are some reasons for optimism, though. As a rookie, Zeke didn't really find his feet until Week 3. Those first two games hurt his overall production.

Also helping will be likely improvement on the offensive line. Dallas invested a second-round pick in the athletic Connor Williams. While Jonathan Cooper was solid last year, Williams fits more of what the Cowboys like to do with getting their linemen out in space.

That's not the only potential upgrade. La'el Collins should be even better if gets to stay at right tackle and develop his game. Also, Tyron Smith is reportedly healthier than he's been in some times. He's dealt with back issues the last few seasons.

Beyond all this, though, is the running back himself. Elliott will be coming to the field with hunger and fury after last year's unjust six-game suspension. We've seen him play with a big smile, but I'm excited to see what he could do with righteous anger.

2012 wasn't that long ago. Adrian Peterson was the best back in the game with one of the best offensive lines. He got a full workload, but the same is likely headed Ezekiel Elliott's way this season. Could the best RB and O-Line in 2018 produce an all-time rushing performance?

The potential is certainly there.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Advertisement
1 Comment
  • Chuck Wright

    More worried about wins and losses vs records but also don’t think they are mutually exclusive. I can see this being an 11-12 win season despite all the changes. And yes, think Zeke has a monster year while Dak’s play is better than year 2 but maybe not year 1.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Poor Execution, Timely SEA Passing Game Doom Cowboys

Sean Martin

Published

on

Sean's Scout: Poor Execution on Offense, Timely Seahawks Passing Game Doom Cowboys in Seattle
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Dallas Cowboys have yet another disappointing loss to put behind them, or at least attempt to, as their struggles on offense carried into Seattle for week three. A desperate team in search of their first win at home, the Seahawks took full advantage of the Cowboys lack of preparation in the first half before capitalizing on mistakes to pull away 24-13.

The Cowboys dropping their second game in three weeks, both in similarly lackluster fashion, this will be a long week at The Star before Dallas kicks off against the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday.

Perhaps the Cowboys need not look any further than their next opponent to realize not all hope is lost for 2018. Like the Seahawks, the Lions were fighting to save their season yesterday, and did so with a home win against the now 1-2 New England Patriots.

If the Cowboys are going to reclaim their status atop the NFC East at any point this season though, some drastic changes are needed on offense. As always, here are my immediate notes on a Cowboys team that relied on their defense a few too many times in this latest loss.

  • I understand the Cowboys plan to use heavy personnel on offense against a defense with as much lateral speed as the Seahawks, but once again the execution from their wide receivers and tight ends was very poor.

By inviting defenders near the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys were challenging their offensive line to beat the Seahawks off the ball and potentially create some big plays for Ezekiel Elliott on the ground. Elliott did find some success as the game became further out of reach for his team, partially because of his own miscues.

The Cowboys' offseason approach at WR is yielding no immediate results, but so too is their confidence in Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers to step up in the absence of Jason Witten. While Witten isn't the missing piece for the Cowboys pushing the ball down the field, their lack of a threat at tight end is a serious detriment to Dak Prescott.

An early second half sequence that really hurt the Cowboys in this game began with a Gathers false start, the team's second straight penalty. Byron Jones' holding penalty on a Seahawks punt backed the offense up to their eleven yard line, and Gathers' ensuing procedural penalty had Dallas driving from their own six.

The Cowboys would do well to earn a manageable third down, despite a predictable run for no gain on first and 15, but Michael Kendricks' sack of Prescott forced a three and out.

  • This will do little to take the heat off Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, but the Cowboys bigger issue on offense was execution compared to play calling in this loss.

Yes, execution is also part of coaching, which makes not only Linehan but the rest of the Cowboys coaches along with Head Coach Jason Garrett responsible for the team's floundering 1-2 start.

The Cowboys finally saw Elliott involved in the passing game on an apparent second quarter touchdown, only to have Elliott step out of bounds before the catch. Settling for early field goals with good field position is typically a sign that a team is in for a long day on the road, and this is exactly the type of afternoon it was for Dallas.

Adding another Elliott fumble and two Dak Prescott interceptions only provides further context on how well the Cowboys defense is playing, keeping this game within reach until the closing minutes.

The Cowboys offense is a house of cards right now, deliberately played by those that should have been held to higher standards as early as last season. With enough talent on this side of the ball to turn things around, the Cowboys must quickly figure out the right layers to peel away before discovering the root of their offensive woes.

Whether or not this ends up being Linehan, or if he simply becomes the scapegoat for a team that's never truly wavered in their commitment to Prescott, it's hard to argue with a change in philosophy for a Cowboys offense still searching for identity.

The Cowboys certainly weren't more creative in this loss, even on their deceptive pitch to Tavon Austin for his second touchdown in as many weeks. That exact play has been used by plenty of teams in that situation this season. With each successful conversion, more teams will add it to their arsenal - the Cowboys being the latest, with nothing to truly show for it.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

That Tavon Austin TD? Yep, it's a copycat league. https://t.co/ggILr2TRGi

  • The Seahawks first touchdown came as a result of two of the worst defensive plays of the year for the Cowboys. 

After being a great blitzing team through two weeks, the Cowboys poorly executed an aggressive third down blitz with the Seahawks on their 35-yard line. The result was a 19-yard conversion to running back Chris Carson. Both Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith were picked up easily by the Seahawks pass protection on the play.

On the very next snap, the Seahawks' speed beat the Cowboys as Jaron Brown freed himself for a 16-yard touchdown. Of course, Seattle would never look back after this second quarter score to open a 7-0 advantage.

The Cowboys issues in coverage didn't stop here either, with Russell Wilson making the timely plays that Prescott left on the field. On Tyler Lockett's touchdown, pushing the Seahawks lead to 14-3, Kavon Frazier was beat to the spot in helping Chidobe Awuzie down the sideline.

Expecting the safety help to be there as it had been with Jeff Heath or even Xavier Woods (playing in his first game of the season), Awuzie still struggled to slow down Lockett, giving a below average cover player like Frazier no chance to get back in the play.

The Cowboys are committed to rotating their linebackers and safeties this season, and while the results have mostly been positive, they simply got caught with the wrong safety in the wrong spot here.

To make matters even worse, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made these gaffs a "what could have been" moment for the Cowboys, turning the game with two interceptions against a team that may still make a push for his services.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Earl Thomas said a couple of Cowboys coaches said to him before the game, "You ready for the trade tomorrow?

  • It took a rough outing from Chidobe Awuzie to be fully appreciated, but Byron Jones was able to show why he's the best cornerback on the Cowboys right now.

On a positive note, the Cowboys are absolutely being rewarded for moving former first-round pick Byron Jones back to cornerback. This was one of the first decisions Kris Richard made upon his arrival to Dallas, looking to bring the Seahawks model to the Cowboys secondary.

Jones size and frame gave him a great chance to succeed under Richard before ever suiting up, but his awareness at cornerback has been off the charts. As opposed to dealing with players already at full speed or at the catch point when he was a safety, Jones is embracing being able to break on the ball and make more plays.

When the Seahawks needed a play through the air, they picked on Awuzie, who was exposed a bit for his tendency to sit on deep routes and react late to anything across his face. To start the game though, the Seahawks learned quickly that targeting Jones was a losing battle, unable to get anything behind him.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Week three was a great example of how much the NFL is a week-to-week league. Before kickoff in Seattle, the Cowboys were perceived to be entering an easier stretch to their season. Now, the Seahawks look like a team that can climb back into the playoff race, as do next week's opponent in the Lions for the Cowboys returning to AT&T Stadium.

It feels safe to say that at least two things are true of the Cowboys through these trying three games however. The Cowboys defense is already one of the best in the league, with the potential to get even better. Meanwhile, their offense is objectively one of the worst.

Whether or not the Cowboys offense is fixable is a question this staff must answer between now and next Sunday. As mentioned, it may feel like a long time until then, but for a team with as many issues as Dallas right now there will be little reprieve from salvaging relevancy (or trying to) in week four.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Poor Execution, Timely SEA Passing Game Doom Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Continue Reading

Player News

REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury

Jess Haynie

Published

on

REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker and Captain Sean Lee will likely miss time with a hamstring injury suffered during the team's Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Lee, who'd hurt his other hamstring in Week 2 against the Giants, had to leave yesterday's game with a new injury to the alternate leg. His status was reported on today by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury 1

Hamstring issues also bothered Sean Lee last year. He missed five games in 2017.

As Rapoport mentioned, the presence of rookie Leighton Vander Esch now takes far greater importance. The 2018 first-round pick looked good yesterday in relief of Sean, registering 11 tackles.

Another season of injury problems could put Lee's future with the Cowboys in jeopardy. In fact, it may only cement what was already a strong possibility.

Sean can be released next season for about $7 million in salary cap savings, and his replacement is already on the roster.

Lee is still a top NFL linebacker when healthy. But "when healthy" has been said far too often, and the Cowboys used their first-round pick this year to prepare for such a problem.

We'll see how long the 32-year-old has to sit out, and what impact that has on his career going forward.



Continue Reading

Game Notes

3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks

John Williams

Published

on

3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks

After an impressive all around performance a week ago against the New York Giants, here we are again looking for answers after a deflating 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks were the better team Sunday, but they weren't ten points better. The Dallas Cowboys hurt themselves -- with the officials help -- with a lot of mental miscues. Whether it was a drop that led to an interception or a blown coverage or a penalty that stalled or extended a drive, the Dallas Cowboys didn't really give themselves a shot at winning this football game.

Every game matters and in a week where every other NFC East team won, this loss hurts even more. There were several stand outs from Sunday's game, and here are this week's 3 Stars.

First ✭

Earl Thomas, Safety

This one hurts to write as I've been in the camp hoping that Earl Thomas would have a star on his helmet for months now.

The drama surrounding the Earl Thomas saga has been relentless, yet he put on an incredible performance in front of the Dallas Cowboys that should assuage any distraction or drama-filled narratives out there.

It was a heck of a game from the All-Pro safety that showed what kind of impact he can have on the outcome of a football game. Thomas was the best Seahawks player on the field today and certainly answered any question of whether he's motivated or not.

The guy is a player and the Dallas Cowboys might have messed around and hurt their chances at signing him in the offseason by not going to get him this year.

Second ✭

Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line

For a team that had allowed the most sacks in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, the Seattle Seahawks' Offensive line did an amazing job of protecting Quarterback Russell Wilson.

After allowing six sacks in each of their first two games, they only allowed Wilson to get sacked twice. The Dallas Cowboys had come into the game second in the NFL in sacks. They handled the Cowboys' blitz packages and stunts very well and Russell Wilson helped himself by getting the ball out of his hands quickly.

The Seahawks offensive line paved the way for Running Back Chris Carson to run for 102 yards on 32 carries. Not a huge number when you look at his yards per carry (3.18), but they were tough effective yards that kept the Dallas Cowboys defense on their heels and extended drives.

Third ✭

Ezekiel Elliott

Where would this team be without Ezekiel Elliott?

Terrible, that's the answer.

I know that there is still gnashing of teeth when people talk about the 2016 NFL Draft and who the Dallas Cowboys selected at number four overall. A lot of people wanted Jalen Ramsey, and for good reason, but Ezekiel Elliott is a game changer in his own right. Even when everyone is looking to stop him, he makes things happen to move the ball down the field.

Elliott ran for 127 yards on 16 carries (7.94 yards per carry), and aside from the fumble was the best player for the Dallas Cowboys tonight.

Honorable Mention

Byron Jones

If you haven't figured it out by now, Corner Back Byron Jones is the Dallas Cowboys' best corner. After Russell Wilson tried Jones' side of the field in the first half, with little success, he began looking elsewhere to get the ball moving through the air.

Any success they had through the air was to the middle of the field or to the left side of the defense.

Looking at you Chidobe Awuzie. 

Frank Clark

Was it just me, or did it seem like Seattle Seahawks Defensive End Frank Clark was in Dak Prescott's face a lot?

You saw that too? 

I would have thought that he would have had more than just one sack in the game. On the Dallas Cowboys first possession of the second half, Clark beat Left Tackle Tyron Smith on a straight speed rush with a little fake inside before getting past Smith in an instant. Tyron isn't typically beaten that easily and though Clark didn't come away with a sack, he certainly provided pressure to keep Prescott off balance.

Leighton Vander Esch

Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys in tackles with 11 (9 solo) and a tackle for loss. He played a really good game with family and friends on hand.

Anthony Brown

Earlier this week, I relayed a stat on Twitter that Anthony Brown had allowed the fewest receptions per slot coverage snap in the NFL in the first two weeks of the season.

Brown stood out to me several times in this game. On special teams and in his defensive role, he made several open field tackles that either went for a loss or no gain. He's a gamer.

Brown may not be the best corner on the team or in the league, but he's got the drive and tenacity that you need from a slot corner.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Who were your 3 Stars of the game? 



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending