Ezekiel Elliott spent the offseason going through a vigorous training regimen to work on his speed and agility with running back guru Josh Hicks. Looking leaner and lighter on his feet during his workouts, the hope was that Elliott would regain some of his luster from his first several seasons when he won two rushing titles and led the NFL in yards per game in 2018.
The 2021 season, as far as rushing yards go, started slow for Elliott with just 33 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, during the Dallas Cowboys four-game winning streak, Elliott has gotten back to being the Cowboys’ workhouse in the running game. In Week 5, Elliott racked up his second consecutive 100-yard performance (only had two in 2020) in the Cowboys 44-20 rout of the New York Giants and has risen to third in the NFL in rushing yards with 452.
Although Elliott is splitting carries with Tony Pollard, who has been excellent as well so far this season, he’s taken full advantage of his opportunities. Elliott is averaging a career-best 5.3 yards per carry and is doing so on just 17 attempts per game which is his second-lowest since entering the NFL in 2016. Also, his five rushing touchdowns are just one shy of his total for last season.
It’s not often to see a running back with the number of carries Elliott has on his body to be this good in year six. Nonetheless, Elliott’s 90.4 yards per game average this season is his best since 2018 and puts him on pace for 1,537 yards which would be the second-highest total of his career.
Jori Epstein on Twitter: “Ezekiel Elliott up to 2 TDs and 110 rushing yards.Cowboys 34, Giants 13(@nfl)pic.twitter.com/DAnRKLG8HX / Twitter”
Ezekiel Elliott up to 2 TDs and 110 rushing yards.Cowboys 34, Giants 13(@nfl)pic.twitter.com/DAnRKLG8HX
It isn’t just the fact that Elliott is racking up yards it’s the way he’s looked doing it that’s been impressive. He looks more elusive and his burst when he has hit the hole this season has been violent and with authority. Elliott’s body lean to get extra yards after contact has moved the chains quite often as his steady and grinding type of running style has beat defenses into submission so to speak.
Coming into this season it seemed as if Elliott was an over-the-hill boxer who didn’t know when to hang up the gloves according to some. That’s head-scratching considering that 2020 was the first time he didn’t reach 1,000 yards in a full season and he had to deal with his top-three offensive lineman missing 36 games and Dak Prescott being out for 11 due to his ankle injury which certainly affected his performance. Plus, as some have seemed to forget, Elliott also battled COVID and a calf strain last season.
Whatever the case may be for the premature burying of his career Elliott is proving this season that there’s still plenty of gas left in his NFL tank and that he’s still one of the league’s best running backs.