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Plan B Options for the Cowboys if Ezekiel Elliott Holds Out

Brian Martin



Plan B Options for Cowboys if Ezekiel Elliott Holds Out

Despite no official word from the man himself, Ezekiel Elliott, there seems to be quite a bit of speculation he could be a holdout when the Dallas Cowboys report to training camp. I honestly have a hard time seeing Zeke pull such a stunt, but the Cowboys need a plan B in place just in case.

As the league's leading rusher two out of the last three years, Ezekiel Elliott is no easy RB to replace. There is absolutely no way the Dallas Cowboys can find a ballcarrier capable of handling the same kind of responsibilities as he has the past three years, but that doesn't mean they don't have options. That's what I want to take a look at today.

Let's get started…

Option 1: Roll the Dice With the Current Backups

Ezekiel Elliott, Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys RB Mike Weber

The most obvious, and most likely, plan B option for the Dallas Cowboys is to just stick with the status quo and roll the dice with their current backups. They do have some intriguing running backs behind Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart, but most of them are all young and unproven.

Rookie RB Tony Pollard is expected to be the RB2 behind Zeke this season, but he is more suited as a change of pace back. It's unlikely Dallas would ask him to handle the same kind of workload #21 has. In fact, Pollard has never been that kind of RB, even during his time at Memphis. The next logical choice may be his fellow rookie draft mate, Mike Weber

Weber is more suited to be in every down type back in the NFL. He is more accustomed to a heavier workload, having played such a role for the Buckeyes during his time at Ohio State. He did end up splitting time with J.K. Dobbins the last few years, but he is probably better suited to play the workhorse role than any other RB behind Zeke on the depth chart.

I think the only other options currently on the roster the Dallas Cowboys would consider is Darius Jackson or Jamize Olawale. After all, they are the only two RBs who have received a meaningful carry in the NFL. To date, Jackson has a grand total of six carries for 16 yards on his resume and Olawale has a total of 55 carries for 206 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Neither have been all that productive, but their experience could prove invaluable.

If Zeke does hold out, and they stick with their current stable of RBs, the Dallas Cowboys will likely go to more of a committee approach as far as their running game is concerned.

Option 2: Sign a Veteran RB

Jay Ajayi

Free Agent RB Jay Ajayi

The next most likely option for the Dallas Cowboys if Zeke holds out is to sign a veteran running back. This means they more than likely aren't all that comfortable with the current RBs on the roster or they simply view what they can still get on the open market as a slight upgrade.

Unfortunately, the vet RBs still available at this point in the year isn't all that inspiring. Jay Ajayi is arguably the best option, but he missed the last 12 games of the 2018 season with a knee injury. If 100% healthy though there's little doubt he wouldn't be the best alternative available to replace Zeke if it comes to that.

The only other vet RBs worth considering for the Cowboys would be LeGarrette Blount or Jacquizz Rogers. Both players have found some success in the NFL, but I'm not exactly sure either could be considered a surefire upgrade over what Dallas already has on the roster.

Sadly, that's about the Cowboys only options as far as available veteran ball carriers go.

Option 3: Trade for a RB

Rex Burkhead

New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

Trading for a running back seems like the least likely option for the Dallas Cowboys if Ezekiel Elliott chooses to sit out training camp. If it came to this, it clearly means the Cowboys don't like their current options behind Zeke, including the two rookie RBs they invested drafts pick on, or what's available on the open market.

If I were the Cowboys, I'd be looking to teams who are currently deep at the RB position. The New England Patriots immediately popped into my head as a possible trade partner. They've invested a first-round pick (Sony Michel) at the position last year and a third-round pick (Damien Harris) this year. They also still have veterans James White and Rex Burkhead.

The Patriots are known as a team willing to trade away any of their unwanted assets, and if the Cowboys are looking to make a deal I think I'd target Rex Burkhead. If New England is indeed willing to part ways with him, it likely wouldn't take more than a 2020 late-round draft pick.

This of course is just a potential option, but not the only one. There are other vet RBs the Cowboys could potentially trade for if they choose to go that direction.

Which option do you think the Cowboys would choose if Zeke holds out?

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.


Game Notes

Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays

Jess Haynie



Jason Garrett, Kellen Moore

There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.

Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.

But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.

Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.

Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.

Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.

With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.

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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings

Brian Martin



Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings

Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.

I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.

The Good

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.

Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.

The Bad

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.

It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.

The Ugly

Dalvin Cook

Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook

Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.

The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!

What is your good, bad, and ugly from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup?

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Game Notes

Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings

Matthew Lenix



Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings

When NFL free agency began this past March the Dallas Cowboys spent the month making several additions to their roster. Veterans George Iloka (only one not currently on the roster), Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and Robert Quinn were added to help on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, there was a huge hole to fill when Wide Receiver Cole Beasley signed a four-year 29 million dollar deal to play for the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys would then sign Randall Cobb about a week later to a one-year deal. The seasoned pro was brought in as an upgrade over Beasley in the slot to compliment Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Also, with his unique ability to play on the outside as well, it would allow Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to present different looks for opposing defenses.

In his first seven games of the season, Cobb struggled to find his place within this offense. He produced 25 receptions for 274 yards, with his lone touchdown coming in the season opener vs the New York Giants. He had four or fewer receptions five times and his most productive game only produced 69 yards. However, last night against the Minnesota Vikings was a glimpse of how productive Cobb can be in this system.

Cobb finished with six receptions for 106 yards Sunday night. This was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 in 2018. Four of his catches went for 20 yards or more, five went for first downs and he scored his second touchdown of the season. Dak Prescott showed supreme confidence in looking for Cobb on crucial third-down situations.

That's exactly what Cobb can do for this offense. He provides another reliable threat in the Cowboys aerial assault. When Cobb plays at a high level it will only free up Cooper and Gallup to wreak havoc on the outside.

Last night's game was a perfect example of this. Cooper had 11 receptions for 147 yards and Gallup added four catches for 76 yards, each scoring touchdowns. It doesn't allow a defense to lock in on one receiver and take them completely out of the game.

Cobb playing well also has an impact on the running game. The better he plays the more defenses will have to focus on stopping himself, Cooper, and Gallup. What does that do? The Cowboys won't face as many eight or nine-man fronts which will give All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to wear down opposing defenses by playing ball control, which is the Cowboys bread and butter.

Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Cobb as the playoff push heats up. If he can continue to build chemistry with Prescott it will only improve one of the NFL's best passing offenses while simultaneously increasing Elliott's ability to be effective by taking extra defenders away from the box. Will Cobb make this a regular occurrence for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.

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