The Dallas Cowboys fan base was a little split when the organization decided to draft the former Ohio State running back, Ezekiel Elliott, with their fourth overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think everybody is probably on board with the selection now.
I was on board with the selection from the get go, but I don’t think any of us would’ve ever predicted Ezekiel Elliott would have the kind of season he had in his first year in the NFL. I mean, he only finished the 2016 regular season with 1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He also accumulated 32 receptions for 363 yards and one TD. That’s not all that impressive (sarcasm).
Elliott’s rookie season couldn’t have possibly gone any better. Well, I guess he could’ve broken Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record, but he put his individual accolades on the back burner to do what’s best for his team. That alone shows you the type of player the Cowboys drafted and I don’t think they could be more pleased with his accomplishments.
Let’s review Elliott’s rookie season:
- 2016 NFL Rushing Leader
- Pro Bowl
- 2016 First-team All-Pro
- 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year Candidate
- 2016 Rookie of the Year Candidate
- 2016 NFL MVP Candidate
As you can see, there’s not much more he could have accomplished in his first season in the NFL. I’m sure we’re all hoping that he adds Super Bowl Champion to the list here in a few weeks, but he has to make it through the playoffs first.
The NFL playoffs are a different beast than what Elliott has experienced so far in his professional career. But, I believe he is up to the task and it all has to do with how he has performed in big games in the past.
While at Ohio State, Ezekiel Elliott had the privilege of playing in some really big games. The way he performed should ease the minds for all of us Dallas Cowboys fans if you were the least bit worried about how he would perform in the playoffs.
In 2014, Ezekiel Elliott’s first year as a full-time starter, he helped lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship Game against the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers were favored to win, but Elliott put his team on his back and rushed for 220 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns. By the way, the Buckeyes won that game 59-0.
In 2015, the Ohio State Buckeyes had the tough task of playing the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. Not many people were giving the Buckeyes a chance to win the game, but once again Elliott was largely responsible for Ohio State’s 42-35 upset victory over the Crimson Tide. Elliott rushed for 230 yards on 20 carries and found himself in the end zone twice.
Ezekiel Elliott then capped off the Buckeyes’ championship season with a 246 yard, four touchdown performance against the Oregon Ducks in the National Championship Game. For his impressive performance against the Ducks, Elliott was named the Offensive MVP for the game. He did all of this with his future head coach, Jason Garrett, watching from the Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium.
So, as history would seem to suggest, Ezekiel Elliott has no problem rising to the occasion in big games. That is exactly the types of performances we want to see him put together starting this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Elliott should be at his best both physically and mentally since Jason Garrett and the coaching staff decided to give him a little extra rest the last game and a half of the regular season.
Ezekiel Elliott at 100% isn’t something that a beat up Packers defense is probably looking forward to seeing on the field Sunday and based on Elliott’s past history in big games, you can probably understand why.
Do you think Ezekiel Elliott is about to wreck shop in the playoffs?
Please for free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.