Ezekiel Elliott entered the 2020 season, surprisingly, with a lot of doubters after his 2019 campaign. Even though he finished fourth in rushing (1,357), tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (12), second in all-purpose yards (1,777), and tied for first in 100-yard games (7) many believed he fell off a cliff for some reason. So much so that an anonymous coach only ranked him the 11-best running back in the NFL back in July, saying he was only 60 to 70 percent of what he once was.
Elliott responded via twitter, and in the Cowboys season opener vs the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, he did so on the field as well.
Despite suffering a tough 20-17 loss to the Rams, Elliott was one of the few bright spots. The highlight of the first half for the Cowboys was Elliott’s second reception of the game in which he cut back inside on the sideline to put four Ram defenders on skates and tie the game at 7-7 with just over 12 minutes to go until halftime.
After the Rams added two field goals, Elliott added his second touchdown of the game from one-yard out to give the Cowboys a 14-13 halftime lead. Elliott had 37 yards on nine carries and an additional 29 yards on two receptions in the first half.
The second half was more of the same as Elliott gained 59 yards on 13 carries and one more reception for two yards. In total, Elliott finished Week 1 with 22 carries for 96 yards and three receptions for 31 yards. It was Elliott’s second-highest rushing and all-purpose yardage total in a season opener of his career (had 104 rushing yards, 140 all-purpose in the 2017 season opener).
Elliott’s current pace, albeit one game, would give him the second-best rushing season of his career. Whether or not he keeps up this particular pace one thing is for certain, the premature demise of Elliott was greatly exaggerated. He looks leaner and seems to have more burst than he did in 2019 and you can bet having a full training camp has worked wonders, and the motivation to prove his doubters wrong as well.
He’s sporting a new “Feed Me” tattoo on his stomach, and if the Cowboys want to regain the NFC East crown, they’ll need to do just that.