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.
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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