Ezekiel Elliott is the shiny new toy for the Dallas Cowboys, and their prized possession following a 4-12 season that led to Elliott's selection with the fourth overall pick.
You can read all about our excitement for Elliott right here (seriously, follow that link to be thrown into a world where Ezekiel Elliott dominates with the Cowboys and everything is right).
However, this article is here to talk about a certain virtual version of Zeke Elliott. EA Sports has begun ranking this rookie draft class through Madden NFL's Ultimate Team.
Without even factoring in the run blocking grades (or any other grades) for the Cowboys offensive line, it already appears that Elliott will do more than make Giants, Eagles, and Redskins fans throw a remote on Sundays.
If you so happen to meet up with one of these rival fans on Madden, Zeke's 84 overall grade combined with 91 speed, 94 agility, 95 acceleration, 90 carrying, 87 trucking, and 84 ball carrier vision will have players chucking controllers faster than you'll be churning out yards on the ground.
As a Madden player myself, the thing that stands out in these ratings is Elliott's trucking ability. While his speed, agility, and acceleration stats put him up there with the league's fastest change-of-pace guys, the trucking is what separates Ezekiel into a category of his own and makes him a complete back.
We have all played with speed backs that have nothing but high speed ratings but terrible overall numbers, and the result is often the frustrating reality that - unless given a hole big enough to drive a truck through - you will be going down on first contact more times than not.
Elliott will be able to hit these holes with enough speed to nearly guarantee a positive play every time, and threaten to take them to the house thanks to that trucking number combined with his 84 vision ranking.
While the release date for Madden 17 has not been determined yet, EA Sports will have time to potentially deal with miscalculations in the rankings that lead to unfair game play.
The NBA series of video games, made by 2K Sports, had to make these adjustments on the fly when Steph Curry essentially broke the game. Developers could not balance the formulas and ratings to make a player that was realistic and still fair.
In other words, the video game Steph Curry would miss shots that the real Curry would make, thanks to overcompensation by the game makers. In trying to fix this, they found that the smallest adjustments flipped the switch on Curry from a brick-layer to an absolute cheat code.
For Elliott, this process may be even harder, because he truly is a complete running back prospect that is going to do scary things lined up behind Tony Romo. Even if they knock down a few of his rankings, the Cowboys offensive line in Madden will allow users to still thrive using America's Team!
So, enjoy your friends' frustration when you get comfy next to the TV for a game of Madden. He'll be tense and ready to go, not understanding your comfort level for such a "big" game.
When he loses the opening coin toss and is forced to kick the football off and send out the Cowboys offense, he will quickly learn the agony of trying to slow down Ezekiel Elliott. As you sip your Mountain Dew and grind out yards, the fourth quarter will roll along in no time, and neither you or your opponent will remember the last time his offense was on the field.
Ezekiel Elliott is here to stay, representing Cowboys Nation both on the field and in Madden. Happy gaming everyone!
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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