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Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem?

“It’s broken.” The collective hearts of Cowboys Nation were shattered into a million pieces as Tony Romo walked into the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field with his hand on his collarbone as ominous clouds hovered in the air on September 20th, 2015. When word trickled out that Romo had in fact broken his collarbone… the resolve of Cowboys Nation reared its legendary force as hope for the season remained despite the fact that we were, two weeks into a season rich with Super Bowl hopes, suddenly down our offense’s top two weapons (Dez Bryant being injured the week before in a last-second victory over the Giants). “This team will survive until Tony comes back,” was our battle cry.

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem? 4

“It’s broken.”

The collective hearts of Cowboys Nation were shattered into a million pieces as Tony Romo walked into the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field with his hand on his collarbone as ominous clouds hovered in the air on September 20th, 2015.

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem?

When word trickled out that Romo had in fact broken his collarbone… the resolve of Cowboys Nation reared its legendary force as hope for the season remained despite the fact that we were, two weeks into a season rich with Super Bowl hopes, suddenly down our offense’s top two weapons (Dez Bryant being injured the week before in a last-second victory over the Giants). “This team will survive until Tony comes back,” was our battle cry.

Such would not be the case as the Cowboys would go on to lose seven consecutive games without number nine behind center. It was, being blunt here, a pathetic display of just how much the team needs Tony Romo to have literally one modicum of success. Romo would return on a day with actual ominous clouds as it rained in a victory over the Miami Dolphins while Tony’s resurgence gave us visions of sunshine once more.

The exclamation point of misery was put on the season when Tony Romo laid on a football field writhing in pain for the second time in a season – just one week after our hopes were reincarnated. There would be no sunshine in 2015… just cold and dark despair.

As it stands the current roster of the Dallas Cowboys seems like one that could in fact challenge for Super Bowl supremacy. This is what makes the club’s inability to overcome the loss of Tony Romo, and Dez Bryant in stretches, all the more frustrating. With so much supposed talent everywhere else – why couldn’t they do more?

The ineptitude of just a year ago was enough to earn the Cowboys the 4th Overall Pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. While many believe the selection, The Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, is an indication that the Cowboys are doing all that they can to aid Tony Romo himself… I began thinking recently that perhaps they are doing everything they can to thrive in a situation without Romo.

I’m not projecting into the future here. I’m speaking specifically in the instance that Tony Romo suffers an injury that causes him to miss time. Ezekiel Elliott helps with that. How, though?

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem? 1

The simple answer is that thanks to Zeke’s supreme skill set running the ball, whoever is calling the signals has significantly less responsibility on their shoulders and the overall composition of the team isn’t compromised too severely. How can I be so confident in that?

Zeke has done it before.

Braxton Miller Goes Down For Season With Injury (August 18th, 2014)

Ohio State’s 2014 campaign, which ultimately ended with a championship in the inaugural College Football Playoff, started off pretty miserably for Buckeye Nation.

Braxton Miller, then a top Heisman Trophy candidate, reinjured his right shoulder to a degree that would cause him to miss all season. Consider that the loss of a player of Miller’s caliber, then two-time reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, would surely have ramifications on the team’s top tailback in Ezekiel.

Suddenly the most explosive player in the Buckeye backfield was the man in a crop top. How did he respond?

J.T. Barrett Era (August 30th, 2014 – November 29th, 2014)

Opponent Carries Yards Touchdowns
Navy 12 44 1
Virginia Tech 8 32 1
Kent State 7 65 0
Cincinnati 28 182 1
@ Maryland 24 139 0
Rutgers 12 69 1
@ Penn State 26 109 1
Illinois 9 69 0
@ Michigan State 23 154 2
@ Minnesota 18 91 0
Indiana 13 107 1
Michigan 17 121 2
Total 197 1,182 10

What can we discern from this?

It obviously took Zeke a few games to rev up that engine, but once he did he didn’t really look back. I urge you to again consider that this ride started just twelve days after the biggest offensive threat besides him was taken away.

Imagine if someone could have come in and had this kind of success when Romo went down? At this point Zeke was averaging 98.5 yards per game and an astonishing 6 yards per carry! That’s insane!

For some perspective on that consider that Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s Leading Rusher in 2015, averaged 92.8 yards per game and only 4.54 yards per carry. That was with the full compliment of weapons surrounding him, granted in Minnesota that’s not much but the point still stands.

What Zeke did up to this point in his 2014 season is nothing short of remarkable on its own, it’s beyond comprehension when you consider the handicap placed on him just twelve days before it began.

Buckle up. This is about to become unfathomable

Cardale Jones Era (December 6th, 2014 – January 12th, 2015)

Dallas Cowboys fans know just how cruel the game of football can be with its wicked twists and turns. Sometimes when you feel like you can’t sink any lower – the football gods come roaring with a surprise.

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem? 2

As if the loss of Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller wasn’t enough, 11 games into the 2014 campaign J.T. Barrett had thrown his hat into that ring while leading the Buckeyes to a 10-1 record. During the annual showdown between The Ohio State and the University of Michigan, Barrett’s season was ended as he broke his ankle and seriously fractured any National Championship hopes for tOSU.

Zeke Elliott just shrugged. The dawn of his finest hour was fast approaching.

Urban Meyer and his staff, who deserve a ton of credit obviously, plugged Cardale Jones in. His first game? The Big Ten Championship. No big deal. In the season’s remaining three games as the Buckeye QB Cardale never completed more than 18 passes. Zeke though, he shined.

Opponent Carries Yards Touchdowns
Wisconsin 20 220 2
Alabama 20 230 2
Oregon 36 246 4
Total 76 696 8

Take a moment to calm down. I’ll wait.

Before our little math lesson let’s consider the facts regarding Ezekiel Elliott at this point:

  • He is 19 years old.
  • His season began with twelve days notice that his starting quarterback would miss it.
  • His College Football Playoff run began with a week’s notice that his new starting quarterback, the one he already adjusted to and performed valiantly with, would miss it.
  • He was the primary focus of opposing defenses.

232 yards per game. 9.16 yards per carry. Wow.

When the pressure was the highest and when he was counted on the most he didn’t just deliver he was legendary. When you really think about the circumstances he was facing… what he did is unparalleled.

How Do Dallas RBs Do Without Tony Romo?

What can we deduce from all of this information? What’s the point of this, really?

It’s no secret that Tony Romo has a history of injuries that we all pretend to avoid. The hard truth is that it’s not just likely, but it’s arguably probable that he will miss some time in 2016. The selection of Ezekiel Elliott aids that in the most supreme way possible.

2015 is a weird parallel to this because Romo missed so much time, but do you remember when he missed the game against the Arizona Cardinals in 2014? Here are DeMarco Murray’s stats from that game plus the ones immediately before and after it.

Opponent Carries Yards Touchdowns
Washington Redskins 19 141 0
Arizona Cardinals 19 79 0
@ Jacksonville Jaguars (London) 19 100 0
Total 57 320 0

You’re probably wondering why I included the games immediately before and after. Allow me to explain.

It was during the third quarter of the Washington game that Romo suffered the injury that would keep him out of the Cardinals game, at which point DeMarco already had 65 yards on the evening (a 51-yard run right after Brandon Weeden came in the game would heavily inflate his statistical night), and it was the Jacksonville game where the world was uncertain just how much Tony Romo would be involved. Is it a serious stretch to say that these were the three games where DeMarco Murray was counted on most? Not at all. In a time of no Romo he was supposed to be the man.

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem? 3

DeMarco averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 106.67 yards per game in this stretch, and you might be wondering why I’m being so critical considering that that’s pretty respectable in terms of NFL standards.

In the seven games preceding these DeMarco averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 130.43 yards per game. Look at how significantly he decreased in production when Romo was out/questionable.

If I got really picky and removed that 51-yard run Murray had immediately after Romo went down, the run which significantly inflates this data to his benefit, his numbers from those three games would be 4.8 yards per carry and 89.67 yards per game. Abysmal.

~~~

Comparing the situation that Ezekiel Elliott faced in 2014 to the time that the Cowboys couldn’t lean as much on Tony Romo in the same season is quite fascinating.

While Zeke flourished in an environment where more was expected of him, DeMarco Murray faded. We saw a similar situation across the majority of 2015 when the Dallas Cowboys as a whole essentially faded without the services of Tony Romo.

Zeke Elliott is the answer to this conundrum. He singlehandedly aids the team more than anyone in recent memory in the event that Tony is down. This is all also indicative that he’ll be the perfect piece for the heir to Tony Romo’s throne to lean on when it’s his time.

Zeke Elliott is everything that we need. Thank God he’s ours.

Do you think that Ezekiel Elliott can handle a situation where Tony Romo is absent? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about “Ezekiel Elliott: No Tony Romo, No Problem?” in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

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I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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