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Ezekiel Elliott’s Carries Have Decreased Three Straight Weeks, Here is Why

Matthew Lenix

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Ezekiel Elliott's Carries Have Decreased Three Straight Weeks, Here is Why

All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott had his first 100-yard performance in a Week 2 win on the road against the Washington Redskins. After 48 yards on 11 carries in the first half, Elliott had only 36 yards in the second half until a 27-yard run pushed his overall total to 111 yards on 23 carries. Exactly the kind of yardage and attempts you would expect from your bell cow. However, the last three weeks have been a little different as his carries have diminished each game. It hasn't been from a lack of commitment to the run game per se, but sometimes certain game situations force you to adjust your gameplan.

When the Miami Dolphins came to town in Week 3 they were considered by many to be the worst team in the league. That all sounds good on paper but games are played on the field, and as we all know, every team gets fired up for the Dallas Cowboys. The first half saw the Cowboys score ten quick points on their first couple of possessions but they wouldn't score again before halftime. The one bright spot was Elliott who ran for 86 yards on 13 carries as the Cowboys led 10-6.

The Cowboys jumped all over Miami with back to back touchdowns from Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott to start the second half pushing the lead to 24-6. Elliott wasn't really needed much after that point and his last carry came with under nine minutes remaining in the game. This allowed rookie Tony Pollard to take over the fourth quarter with 74 yards on 8 carries, and keep Elliott fresh for a showdown with the New Orleans Saints a week later.

In all, Elliott ran for 125 yards on 19 carries, extremely productive and not taxing on the body. Pollard running for 103 yards himself allowed Elliott to stay on the sidelines and rest up for the next game.

In Week 4 the Cowboys faced the Saints on the road in prime time. Unfortunately for Elliott, this would be a game where his offensive line would get manhandled for four quarters. This put the Cowboys in quite a few second/third and long situations because Elliott seemingly saw gold helmets in his face immediately after taking each handoff. He would only rush for 35 yards on 18 carries, less than two yards per attempt.


In these situations when an offense can't muster anything on the ground you simply stick with it just to keep the defense honest and not become one-dimensional. The flow of the game, in this case, dictated that Elliott wouldn't see a lot of touches with his offensive line getting dominated.

This past Sunday against the Green Bay Packers could've been a monster day for Elliott considering he would be going up against the 26th ranked run defense, but like the previous two weeks, the flow of the game forced a different scenario. The first half saw the Cowboys invade Packers territory on three consecutive drives, but one stalled due to a sack and the other two ended with interceptions. Elliott had 60 yards on 10 carries in the first half but the Cowboys found themselves in a 17-0 hole.

That deficit quickly ballooned to 31-3 in the second half and virtually took Elliott out of the game. He had only two carries after halftime and finished with just 62 yards on 12 carries. Early turnovers put the Cowboys behind so much that the only way to get back in the game was to air it out the rest of the way.

Given the way the previous three games have unfolded no one should be overly concerned at this point about Elliott's carries going down. The Cowboys simply adjusted to what was happening on the field and in these cases. Elliott was either not needed or taken out of the gameplan.

This Sunday against the New York Jets the Cowboys will be facing a good defensive front seven. I would still expect Elliott to be used early and often to establish what the Cowboys do best which is run to set up the play-action passing game.


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Football Focus: The San Francisco 49ers Might Be NFC’s Finest

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Football Focus: The San Francisco 49ers Might Be NFC's Finest 1

I doubt many of us expected the San Francisco 49ers to be undefeated through six weeks. But they are. And it's not like they've only beaten bad teams. Last weekend, they defeated the defending NFC champions, the Los Angeles Rams, playing without their starting offensive tackles. At 5-0, they're the official favorites to win the NFC West.

It's fair to put them in the discussion of being the best team in the National Football Conference. The Rams are not what they were and other teams like the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears haven't been as dominant as many expected them to.

The only team that I'd think of ranking over the 49ers is the New Orleans Saints. Even without Drew Brees, they find themselves as one of the best teams in the league and are full of talent on offense and defense.

But the 49ers have played better football than any other team in the NFC.

Right now, they're the second best team in DVOA in the NFL by a wide margin. In fact, they're defense is among the best of all time through five games in this category. They rank second since 1986 in defensive DVOA, only behind the 2019 New England Patriots.

Jimmy Garoppolo has played well. Although he hasn't been a passing yards machine, he's completed 69.9% of his attempts.  They've found a rushing attack with a strong running back committee, becoming the second best rushing attack in the NFL while averaging 179 yards per game on the ground. Their offensive front is solid and will be even better when they get tackles Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley back.

Not to mention, on the other side of the ball, they have one of the best defensive lines in football with a top edge rusher who's only getting started in Nick Bosa. He's only a rookie, but he's playing like a top pass rusher already.


This team is truly special and 100% real. Don't expect them to go away, because they won't.

Jalen Ramsey

Former Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey

Three-And-Out: 3 Quick Thoughts

  • The Los Angeles Rams traded for CB Jalen Ramsey. They sent two first round selections to the Jacksonville Jaguars. As good as Ramsey is, that's a lot. The Rams are betting on getting things right after a 3-3 start. The San Francisco 49ers lead the division and might keep the title for themselves. Can the Rams bounce back? Will their trade be worth it? It's hard to know, but right now, they might be aiming for a wildcard spot.
  • The Los Angeles Chargers might be the least healthy team in the NFL. They're missing a ton of starters on both sides of the ball and are off to a bad start. They've lost back-to-back games to the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers (led by a third-string QB). I get that they're injured, but that can't be their only problem. Something is wrong with Anthony Lynn's team. They were supposed to be a contender but they've got a lot more to do than just "get healthy."
  • Jameis Winston, man. Just when I thought there was something different to him this season. He got off to a hot start and some (myself included) thought Bruce Arians might've pressed the right buttons to help him turn his career around. But last Sunday, Winston threw FIVE interceptions. He was also sacked seven times and fumbled the ball twice. Time to move on from the once #1 overall pick.

Player of the Week: WR Stefon Diggs, MIN Vikings

The Vikings took advantage of an unhealthy defense from the Philadelphia Eagles as Kirk Cousins threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns. His main weapon was WR Stefon Diggs, who had seven catches, 167 yards and three touchdowns, including a clutch 62-yard catch. Recently, Diggs was reportedly asking for a trade. Now he might be happy in a 4-2 Vikings team that sits at second in the NFC North.

Underdog of the Week: Pittsburgh Steelers

It was a rough game for Pittsburgh but they walked away with their second win of the season. They did so led by none other than Devlin Hodges, third-string quarterback. His game wasn't great but team effort pushed this team to to a big-time upset on Sunday Night Football. James Conner racked up two total touchdowns, but it was rookie Benny Snell Jr. who led the team rushing with 75 yards.

Fun fact: The Steelers won with only one player with over 15 receiving yards, RB James Conner, who had 78.

Football Focus: The San Francisco 49ers Might Be NFC's Finest

College Football Corner: Should LSU Be #1?

The LSU Tigers are putting on a show. They already have two Top-10 wins as Joe Burrow continues to position himself as a candidate for the Heisman trophy. What Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady has done for the Tigers has been remarkable. Ironically, offense is the Tigers' strong suit now. There's a big-time argument for them to be ranked above both Alabama and Clemson.

According to the AP Poll, they are the #2 team in the country but I wouldn't be surprised if by the time the College Football Playoff Selection Committee's rankings come out, they're #1. Alabama and LSU play in November, by the way. I can't wait.

Tell me what you think about "Football Focus: The San Francisco 49ers Might Be NFC’s Finest" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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It’s Time for DeMarcus Lawrence to Return to his All-Pro Level of Play

Matthew Lenix

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It's Time for DeMarcus Lawrence to Regain his All-Pro Status

When you produce at a high level you get paid the big bucks in the NFL, it's just that simple. That's exactly what All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence did over the previous two seasons racking up 25 sacks. His dominance was rewarded back in April as the Dallas Cowboys signed him to a five-year 105 million dollar extension with 65 million in guarantees. With that kind of payday comes enormous expectations, especially playing under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium. However, if you want to be the elite of the elite this is what comes with the territory, and rightfully so.

The first order of business after inking his new deal was to have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. The procedure was successful and put Lawrence on the shelf with an estimated recovery time of 3-4 months. During the healing process, Lawrence would miss all of OTAs, minicamp, and most of training camp before his return in limited action just prior to the start of the season.

The Cowboys kicked off the 2019 season against the rival New York Giants. Lawrence is no stranger to this team as his 3.5 career sacks against them were his second-most against any opponent coming into Week 1. The Cowboys dominated the Giants from the outset and won easily 35-17. Lawrence had a pretty decent day by his standards with two tackles, two quarterback hits, and a half-sack.

In Week 2 the Cowboys went on the road to face another NFC East rival the Washington Redskins. Once again, they were impressive going up as much as 17 points en route to a 31-21 victory. Lawrence, however, had one of if not the worst statistically game of his career. He was completely blanked from the stat sheet besides one quarterback hit. Even in a game where there wasn't any question of who was going to win you still don't want to see your All-Pro pass rusher virtually shutout for 60 minutes.

Week 3 saw the Cowboys steamroll the Miami Dolphins in Arlington. Dak Prescott threw two touchdowns, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard both ran for over 100 yards and the defense held the Dolphins to two field goals. Lawrence had two tackles, two quarterbacks and a sack for his efforts. Just like the season opener, his performance didn't jump off the screen but if you can get a sack and some hits on the opposing team's quarterback you're doing your job as a rush rusher.


In Week 4 the Cowboys were in a defensive battle with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. Lawrence had another two tackle performance and registered a sack for the second consecutive week even in a tough 12-10 loss. You would hope that would spark some sort of rhythm for him getting to the quarterback but that didn't exactly happen.

The previous two games have been ones I'm sure Lawrence would like to forget. When the Green Bay Packers came to town Lawrence and company had the tough task of getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers, but they failed, especially their leader. Lawrence would only register a single tackle for the entire game as Aaron Jones had a career-high four rushing touchdowns and the Cowboys lost their second consecutive game. On the road against the Jets last Sunday, it wasn't much better as Lawrence only got credit for two tackles. In addition to this, he didn't get a sack, pressure or quarterback hit for the second straight game.

Granted, Lawrence has seen as many double teams as any edge rusher this season but at some point, big-time players find a way to make plays. Take All-Pro Defensive Tackle Aaron Darnold for example, he saw double teams on most of his snaps in 2018 and still managed to record 20.5 sacks. Simply put, you have to earn the paycheck you receive weekly.

Nine total tackles and 2.5 sacks in six games is what Lawrence has produced so far, that's simply not good enough. If he wants to pick a time to have his first breakout game of 2019, this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles is the perfect opportunity to do so with the Cowboys currently on a three-game losing streak. With first place in the NFC East on the line, a big performance from Lawrence would be just what the doctor ordered, especially facing a quarterback as talented as Carson Wentz. We have all been patiently waiting to see the guy that terrorized NFL the previous two seasons. Will it happen this Sunday? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 


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Ezekiel Elliott led Near Comeback vs Jets, Needs to be Focal Point Going Forward

Matthew Lenix

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Ezekiel Elliott led Near Comeback vs Jets, Needs to be Focal Point Going Forward

The Dallas Cowboys have developed a not so pleasant trend during the early part of the 2019 season, slow starts. In the previous three games before this past Sunday's matchup with the New York Jets, the Cowboys scored a total of 13 points in the first half. Unfortunately, it was more of the same at Metlife stadium as six points were all the Cowboys could muster before halftime. In the second half, however, Ezekiel Elliott became the focal point as the Cowboys nearly stormed all the way back to tie the game in the final seconds.

The Cowboys found themselves down 21-6 to start the third quarter and were in desperate need of a spark. They would find it in their All-Pro ball carrier as Elliott rushed the ball nine times on a 14 play drive that took over seven minutes off the clock and cut the deficit to 21-9. This drive not only got the Cowboys back to what they do best which is run the football but it created some easy throws for Dak Prescott.

Ezekiel Elliott led Near Comeback vs Jets, Needs to be Focal Point Going Forward 1

On the next drive Elliott would carry the ball four more times on a 10 play drive that ended on a missed field goal by Kicker Brett Maher. In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had their most productive drive of the entire game going 84 yards in 11 plays in just under five minutes. Elliott had another four carries and capped off the drive with a touchdown bringing the Cowboys within five at 21-16. The comeback attempt would fall short 24-22 after a failed two-point conversion in the final minute. Elliott finished with 152 all-purpose yards (105 rushing, 47 receiving) and a touchdown.


One of the bad things about the hot start to the season for Prescott was it created an illusion that the Cowboys are now a passing football team. Granted, Prescott has shown improvement throwing the ball down the field but this offense still goes through Elliott first and foremost. He had 18 of his 28 carries in the second half this past Sunday and it was clear to see that the offense moved the chains more fluently with him as the spearhead. This isn't to take anything away from Prescott or the Cowboys wide receivers by any means but they all benefit from Elliott slowly but surely wearing down defenses which sets up the play-action passing game. This formula has not only won Elliott two rushing titles in the previous three years but it has brought the Cowboys two NFC East crowns over that span, and there's a good reason for that, it works.

Currently, the Cowboys are searching for answers to solve the puzzle of this three-game losing streak. A showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles awaits them this Sunday at home with outright control of the NFC East on the line. If the Cowboys want to get back on track they need to ride the coattails of Elliott. Prescott has had 40 or more pass attempts in each of the last two games, that's far too many. Put the ball in Elliott's hands, control the clock and take advantage of your one-on-one matchups on the outside. That's the Cowboys recipe for success and they need to get back to it fast.


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