Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott The Returner: Crazy Good, Or Just Crazy?

Finally! After weeks of the post-draft lull and continued offseason, football is now on the horizon. Yes, real football. It’s close, oh so close. The Dallas Cowboys opened up their Mandatory Mini-Camp at Valley Ranch yesterday, and there was no shortage of news, nor excitement.

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott The Returner: Crazy Good, Or Just Crazy?

Finally!

After weeks of the post-draft lull and continued offseason, football is now on the horizon.

Yes, real football. It’s close, oh so close.

The Dallas Cowboys opened up their Mandatory Mini-Camp at Valley Ranch yesterday, and there was no shortage of news, nor excitement.

The two biggest stories of the day were a bit on the somber side, as defensive end Benson Mayowa will be undergoing a minor knee surgery and running back Darren McFadden suffered a broken elbow.

While the Mayowa news struck fans hard due to the Cowboys current weak spot at defensive end even when Mayowa is healthy, we were able to shake of the McFadden news to a certain extent because of one man; Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott was going to be the starter anyway come September, and most expect Alfred Morris to take over the number two job from McFadden as well. What his injury really does is potentially open up the door for sixth round running back Darius Jackson to potentially earn a roster spot.

Zeke has already taken over the reigns as the starting running back, getting most of the first team reps yesterday now that McFadden is out of the picture.

But yesterday, Ezekiel Elliott was doing more than just taking his running back reps, he was even getting chances to return kickoffs.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott and Morris Claiborne both worked on returning kickoffs

Let me start by saying, I highly doubt that Ezekiel Elliott is the week one kick returner. There is simply too much at stake. The Cowboys have way too much invested in him to be a franchise running back for him to be put back there and potentially suffer an injury.

But, it is a lot of fun to think about.

Elliott did not return kicks at Ohio State often, returning only one kick for 16 yards in 2014, and two punts for 13 yards in 2015.

But the former Big 10 leader in all purpose yards could be a dangerous weapon if given the opportunity.

Of course, as almost every college skill player does, Elliott saw action on Special Teams early on in his collegiate career. But, he was used on kickoff team as a fearsome tackler, not as a returner, and recorded this bone crushing hit in 2013 against Purdue.

Ohio State Football vs Purdue Kick Off November 2, 2013

Drew Basil kicks off in the 3rd quarter with the Buckeyes leading over Purdue 49 to 0 Ezekiel Elliot makes the hit for the tackle for the Ohio State.

The Cowboys have allowed a high profile first rounder to serve as a returner before. Dez Bryant did so at times during his first three seasons, recording two punts for touchdowns his rookie season in 2010.

I would argue that Dez is still the Cowboys most dangerous return man, but it is even more unlikely that he will be used there than it is that Elliott will.

The Cowboys should, and I believe will, instead look at their other rookie running back to get some work as a kick returner. Darius Jackson has “breakaway speed” and can score anytime he touches the ball. I apologize for the clichés, but as I talked about in his film review, it is very true.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-draft/draft-film-review-cowboys-rb-darius-jackson/

Most of the questions I have about Jackson are about his ability to be an every down runner, but as a return specialist or specialized offensive weapon, these questions wouldn’t matter much.

So no, it is not likely that Ezekiel Elliott will get a chance to be a returner this season, or any season for the Cowboys.

But just imagine having Zeke and Dez back there waiting for the opening kickoff, ready to put a spike through the opponent’s heart before the offense even gets on the field.

We will just have to settle for them dominating together solely on the offensive side of the ball, I guess.

ADVERTISEMENT

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

Published

on

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

Published

on

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

Published

on

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Advertisement
Advertisement
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