The 2019 season is in full swing. The Dallas Cowboys thoroughly dominated the New York Giants this past Sunday 35-17 in a game that was a mismatch from the beginning. After giving up a touchdown on their first defensive possession the Cowboys outscored the Giants 35 to 10 the rest of the way and picked up a huge division win in week one. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott had a rather pedestrian 13 carries for 53 yards, but he did manage to score a touchdown. Not an ideal start but if you look at Elliott’s history it’s quite normal.
During his rookie year in 2016, Elliott got off to somewhat of a slow start. In his debut, he ran the ball twenty times for 51 yards in a one-point loss to the New York Giants and followed that up with an 83-yard performance against the 49ers in a win. The next nine games Elliott rushed for at least 92 yards including a four-game stretch of at least 134 yards rushing. It concluded with him winning the NFL rushing title with 1,631 yards as well as receiving Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
In 2017, he started off fast in week one with 104 yards against the Giants but had his worst career game in Denver a week later with 8 yards on 9 carries. This put him at an unimpressive 56 yard average for the first two games but that would change quickly. He would rush for at least 93 yards in six of the final eight games he played in as his 98.3 yards per game average lead the NFL. The only reason he didn’t win the rushing title that season was because he served a six-game suspension for domestic violence allegations. Again, a slow start that ended with a flurry.
After failing to reach 80 yards in each of the first two games last season, Elliott would rush for a hundred in three of the next four. His best stretch of the season game in weeks 10 through 14 when he ran for a hundred yards in four out of five games. By the end of the season, he won his second rushing title in three years with 1,434 yards and got his second pro bowl/all-pro nods. I guess it’s safe to say slow starts don’t bother Elliott.
The Cowboys had a plan in place to limit Elliott’s touches due to him only having two practices before the season started. “I felt about the same. Obviously, I was a little rusty,” Elliott said after the week one win. “I didn’t play the best game. I have a lot I can improve on. But that’s going to take time, and it’s about getting more reps and being out there longer.”
Elliott stayed in peak condition while training in Cabo during his holdout for a new contract that lasted over forty days. However, the only way to be in football shape is to, well, play football. He essentially got his training camp/preseason touches this past Sunday working out the kinks. If history serves as any reminder you can expect Elliott to be racking up the yardage very soon, maybe even this Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Nonetheless, I see his workload increasing expeditiously.