Connect with us

Star Blog

Film Room: Evaluating An Ezekiel Elliott-Less Running Game

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Should Cowboys Cut Ties With Alfred Morris Or Darren McFadden?
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you probably know the news. The league's third leading rusher and reigning rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended for six games, rendering the Cowboys without their lead back until mid-December.

We could talk about whether the process was fair or not, or if the NFL has now taken over a judicial power which will be dangerous going forward, but we want to know how this all affects the football team, right?

I'm going to pretend the answer to that question is "yes," so we can discuss what the film says about the Cowboys running game going forward.

Dallas will try to replace Elliott with three running backs: Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, and Rod Smith. Both Morris and McFadden are former 1,000 yard rushers, and Rod Smith has rightfully become a fan favorite over the past few months.

But, of course, they aren't Zeke.

It has become a common take that the Cowboys offensive line is good enough to create rush lanes for any back. Though it's agreed upon that Elliott is an elite-level back, their offensive line is also top-tier, and "plugging" in a different back should still bring good results.

To a certain extent, this is true. The Cowboys are one of the best teams in the league in terms of now allowing penetration, something that obviously helps the run game.

We have seen Elliott break through the line untouched multiple times, making it seem like a different running back could have seen similar success on that snap. What is missed, however, is how Elliott's vision and burst through the line of scrimmage make him so special.

dalvswas zeke 4 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Last week against Washington we saw some fantastic examples of how special Elliott is. On an outside zone play here, the offensive line does a great job getting to their aiming points and moving laterally. On the backside, Jason Witten cuts off the EDGE defender, creating a cutback lane for Elliott.

On the playside, Jonathan Cooper is late coming off to the SAM backer, allowing him to get into the backfield before contact. Elliott sees this developing, and immediately cuts to the backside for a big gain.

Both his top-tier vision and excellent burst are seen right here, as Elliott goes "untouched" for a chunk play.

As we have seen over the last year and a half, Elliott can get you big plays on the ground despite missed blocking assignments. Even if a line of scrimmage defender beats one of the Cowboys linemen, Elliott can make people miss and find positive gains. On the other hand, Morris and company aren't really going to give you that.

For Alfred Morris to run for one of those "chunk" plays, the blocking upfront will need to be closer to perfect. This will put greater responsibility on the passing game, specifically the short passing game, to create that yardage in different ways than Elliott.

It will also be important for the Cowboys to stay on schedule on first down. With Elliott, they have been able to simply hand it off and get 3-4 yards with relative ease. This keeps the Cowboys ahead of the chains and makes things easier on Dak Prescott. Dallas has to find a way to stay consistent on first down and keep themselves out of second/third and longs.

Lastly, as I discussed last week, the Cowboys have been running more gap-scheme plays lately with Jonathan Cooper at left guard. This should be helpful to McFadden, and also makes reads for the running backs simpler than they are in zone schemes. Hopefully, this can take some of the load off of these replacement running backs.

So, while it will certainly be a tall task to keep this offense rolling without Ezekiel Elliott like it has been since Arizona, I do believe the Cowboys have the personnel to potentially make up the difference.



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 have been with ITS since 2016.

Advertisement
Comments

Star Blog

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Schedule Predictions Ahead Of Wednesday’s Release

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Wednesday night the official 2019 NFL schedule will be released, and we will know the exact times and dates of each of the Cowboys' upcoming games.

We already know the opponents, however, and we know how the NFL typically likes to schedule games week to week. Based on both prior history and future opponents, here are 3 predictions for tonight's schedule release.

1. Cowboys Open Up With The Giants

I didn't say the predictions would be bold, did I?

The NFL loves to have the Cowboys open up against the New York Giants, and I see that being the case here again. Dallas/New York will always bring about solid ratings, but scheduling this game before the Giants (likely) fall out of contention is a smart move as well.

This game will be in Dallas at 4:25 eastern time, occupying that "America's Game of the Week" slot during the opening weekend. Because as much as everyone says they hate watching these NFC East games, the numbers bear out a different story.

2. Cowboys Play @ Saints Thursday After Thanksgiving

We know the Cowboys will play in an extra Thursday or Saturday night game this season. They always do.

Lately the league has liked to schedule them as the Thursday night game following Thanksgiving, and I don't see them breaking  that trend this season. Dallas has played the Vikings, Redskins, and Saints in this game the last three years, with the Cowboys/Saints game being one of the best of last year's Thursday slate.

Why not run it back at the Superdome this November?

3. Cowboys Close The Season With A Brutal December

This is broad prediction, so let's narrow it down a bit. I think the Cowboys will play three critical NFC games in December, at the very least. These games will include NFC East battles with the Washington Redskins (week 17) and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as a game at Chicago to face the Bears.

It's likely the Cowboys, Bears, and Eagles will be fighting for playoff positioning (or playoff births) down the stretch in December. Plus, anytime a combination of these three teams play, ratings will be drawn. I think they'll have Prescott battle Mitchell Trubisky and Carson Wentz this December, as he and the Cowboys look to clinch a consecutive playoff birth.



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Lawrence Extendido, ¿Sigue Prescott?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Warts And All, Dak Prescott Shows Why It's Not So Easy To Move On

La saga más importante en este offseason de los Dallas Cowboys llegó a su fin la semana pasada cuando DeMarcus Lawrence por fin firmó su extensión. Tras semanas de estar en un "punto muerto" en las negociaciones, se reportó que ambas partes habían retomado las pláticas el viernes pasado y el mismo día se anunció el trato.

El ala defensiva de 27 años consiguió un contrato de cinco años y 105 millones de dólares. Esto convierte a Lawrence en el tercer defensivo mejor pagado de la liga en promedio por año, detrás solo de Khalil Mack y Aaron Donald. Con 21 millones anuales, muchos no están de acuerdo con pagarle esta cantidad de dinero a un defensivo como D-Law.

Es entendible, dado que nunca es fácil hacer a un jugador uno de los mejores pagados en la liga. Sin embargo, DeMarcus Lawrence lo vale. Pidió dinero del calibre de Von Miller y otros defensivos elite porque ha producido a ese nivel.

DeMarcus Lawrence Has the Leverage in Cowboys Contract Talks

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

No sólo eso, sino que realmente se ha perfilado como el mejor en su posición contra el juego terrestre. El valor que aporta al equipo logra justificar lo que se le pagará. Además, la estructura del contrato realmente ata al equipo solo por tres años a Lawrence. Esto es una victoria para la administración de los Jones.

¿Quién Sigue? Dak Prescott.

Como bien sabemos, DeMarcus Lawrence no era el único jugador que necesitaba recibir una extensión. Pero ahora que está fuera de los quehaceres, Dak Prescott es el centro de atención en Dallas.

En sus primeros tres años en la NFL, los Cowboys han ganado dos veces el título de la NFC East. Ha demostrado ser un líder capaz de dirigir al equipo y ganar en los momentos importantes. De hecho, Prescott es el quarterback con más series ganadoras desde el 2016, cuando entró a la liga. Por si fuera poco, ningún mariscal de campo ha conseguido tantas series así en sus primeras tres temporadas.

NFL Research on Twitter

DallasCowboys QB Dak Prescott * Most game-winning drives (14) since 2016 * Most game-winning drives in first 3 seasons (14) of any QB since 1950 @dallascowboys @dak

Y no hay que confundirnos. La pregunta no es si lo van a extender o no. La pregunta es: ¿Cuánto le van a pagar al quarterback de 25 años? Sabemos que la administración confía plenamente en Dak para ser el futuro. Le van a pagar. Para darnos una idea, veamos los mejores pagados actualmente según Over The Cap (en promedio por año):

  • Aaron Rodgers - $33.5M
  • Matt Ryan - $30M
  • Kirk Cousins - $28M
  • Jimmy Garoppolo - $27.5M
  • Matt Stafford - $27M

Muchos ven a Dak como un jugador que merece menos de 25 millones al año, pero no es así como funciona el mercado. A mi parecer, el contrato no bajará de 25 y se acercará a los 30 al año. ¿Mucho? Quizá. Pero en esta liga, si te quieres quedar con un mariscal franquicia, tienes que pagarle bastante para evitar que llegue a la agencia libre.

Y sí, Prescott sigue bajo contrato en 2019 pero la extensión seguramente vendrá antes. El valor por un QB sube cada año al igual que todas las posiciones y con un jugador como Patrick Mahomes en la AFC, habrá un brinco considerable el próximo offseason.

Cuando Prescott firme una extensión, habrá mucha división entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Personalmente, veo a Dak como un jugador franquicia. Por ahora, estemos contentos porque Lawrence se queda en casa.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Lawrence Extendido, ¿Sigue Prescott?" 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!



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Cowboys Come Out In Full Force To Support Dirk Nowitzki In His Final Home Game

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys Come Out In Full Force To Support Dirk Nowitzki In His Final Game

Last night was a major one in the NBA, with two legends and future Hall of Famers playing in their last respective home games. Of course, the legend which means the most to Dallas-area sports fans is Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki, who gave a teary-eyed farewell to the Dallas faithful on Tuesday night, finally admitting "it's time."

It's no secret that Nowitzki has been supportive of all DFW teams while apart of the Mavs organization, and last night the Cowboys returned the favor, showing up in full force to support Nowitzki in his final game.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Dallas Cowboys at tonight's Mavericks game: Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, Connor Williams, Joe Looney, Jeff Heath, Travis Frederick, La'el Collins, Randall Cobb, Allen Hurns, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Tavon Austin https://t.co/546B30dqPY

A collection of players, including Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Sean Lee joined head coach Jason Garrett in a luxury box to enjoy the game and show their support of the Mavs legend.

Dirk Nowitzki put up 30 points and 8 rebounds in the Mavericks 120-109 win, an excellent way for the future Hall of Famer and fan favorite to go out in front of his home fans.



Continue Reading



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