Being successful in the running game will always be critical in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys currently have the fifth-ranked rushing attack in the NFL at 133.8 yards per game, but lately, it's been a struggle for them on the ground.
In their last four games, the Cowboys have averaged just 88 yards per game rushing after putting up 164.3 yards in their first six. The Cowboys will be without Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and more than likely won't have CeeDee Lamb against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday. Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys top running back, thinks Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to establish the run.
“I think running the football has to be important to us,” Elliott said. “I think it helps this offense. We're a better football team when we can run it well.
“I think it will be point for us Thursday to get that run game going.”
The Cowboys' offensive line gets a major boost this week as Tyron Smith is on track to return after missing three games with an ankle injury. This means that Smith, Zack Martin, and La'el Collins will play their first game together in the starting lineup since 2019 which gives the Cowboys running game a great chance to get back on track.
“We've just got to run it better,” Elliott said. “Maybe the past couple of weeks, we haven't run it that well.
“I just think we have to kind of lock back in and get it going.”
It's been a tale of two seasons so to speak for Elliott. He averaged 86.8 yards in the first six games of the season. However, over the last four games, it's been cut in half to 43.5 yards. Tony Pollard has also seen his numbers go down as of late as he's gone from 61 yards per game in the first six to 32.5 over the last four.
Elliott and Pollard moving the chains consistently led the Cowboys to a 5-1 record earlier in the season. Over the last month, their lack of success on the ground has led to a 2-2 record. Simply put, the Cowboys are a better offense when they can establish the run and get defenses to load the box which allows Dak Prescott to spread the ball around in the passing game. It's about balance and it's something the Cowboys need to get back to against the Raiders.
The Cowboys are 7-3 with a two-and-a-half game lead in the NFC East. With seven games left, Dallas needs to start separating from the pack, and getting the running game back on track is a great way to start.