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Sean’s Scout: Early Lack of Depth In Running Game Not A Concern

Sean Martin

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There was a time when the Dallas Cowboys were preparing to begin their 2017 season without star running back Ezekiel Elliott for the first six games, ready to rely on Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and potentially Rod Smith to carry the load in Elliott's absence. The team knew for some time prior to Sunday night though that Elliott would play against the Giants at the very least (likely on the field for the entirety of the season now) and the Cowboys responded by running Ezekiel 24 times for 104 yards against New York.

How things shook out behind Elliott in the backfield came as a surprise though, as Darren McFadden was a healthy scratch and Rod Smith did not take a single carry. The only other Dallas RB to carry the ball was Alfred Morris, who ran four times for a net gain of one yard.

It is certainly no secret that the Dallas Cowboys want to lean on their bell cow in the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott in his second season, but the capable veterans behind him should be expected to carry a bigger load in their respective roles moving forward.

This Sean's Scout will evaluate the entirety of the Cowboys' running game against the Giants in week one.

Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Vs Giants (13) - Streamable

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

What makes Ezekiel Elliott such a special player is his ability to run the football with elite balance, power, vision, and elusiveness on every single play. Elliott's longest gain on the ground in this game was just ten yards, making his workmanlike performance even more impressive as he churned out tough yards against a very talented Giants defense.

If compared directly to Elliott, any RB on this Dallas team is going to look lackluster, and it is possible that the Cowboys are planning on playing the match ups more with how they utilize McFadden, Morris, and Smith behind #21.

Playing against a Giants front four that is in on every play, the need to take "ugly" yards while committing to zone runs throughout the night meant Morris got the nod over McFadden for limited reps.

Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Vs Giants - Streamable

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

What the Cowboys of course missed in Alfred Morris was Zeke's ability to frequently make the first man miss, even if it is an unblocked MIKE linebacker in the backfield. The tape showed that Morris still followed all of his blocks as well as Elliott did on this night, lacking the finishing ability to maybe hit on a chunk play and change this narrative a bit.

Even Morris' -4 yard run that left him with a box score of one total rushing yard has a hidden positive for the Cowboys in it.


Cowboys Alfred Morris Vs Giants (13) - Streamable

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On this snap, the Cowboys are in a 13 personnel package that worked very well throughout the night. The three tight ends in the game created favorable match ups for the interior linemen.

Particularly, C Travis Frederick was able to take advantage of Damon Harrison - likely the best run stopping DT in the NFL - the best he could out of 13 personnel, with Harrison forced to line up over him as a one or zero technique.

The adjustment the Giants made here to free up Harrison from the reach block of Frederick killed this play for Morris, as Harrison shifts to a penetrating 3T position. With Zack Martin going clear to the second level, Morris cannot escape "Snacks" Harrison in the backfield.

Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Vs Giants (13) - Streamable

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

For comparison, here is Elliott carrying the ball out of 13 personnel with Frederick's reach block and seal creating a crease for a solid gain.

Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Vs Giants - Streamable

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

If given a chance to get into a rhythm, there is little on tape that Elliott did against the Giants that Alfred Morris could not replicate to a level that will be effective throughout this season. Head Coach Jason Garrett was quick to praise the Cowboys' ability to grind down the Giants in this game with the amount of plays they ran on offense as a key to the victory, so it makes sense that entering the night with Elliott and Morris was the plan all along.

It should also be no surprise in Denver this Sunday afternoon if the Cowboys roll with Elliott, McFadden, and Rod Smith against a Denver Broncos defense that can be over aggressive defending the run.

The Cowboys have players that can exploit match ups all over the field on offense, along with the luxury of the most talented and versatile running back in the game. While the rushing attack will be fine as long as Elliott is toting the rock, it should excite Cowboys Nation that the team is potentially looking at maximizing their weapons out of the backfield with unique pairings at running back based on the defenses in front of them.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

There's a bit of a theory going around that it might depend on the team we are playing as to who is RB2 from Week to Week. https://t.co/0kcZvLAaKb

Even if Alfred Morris proves to be ineffective with more reps, it should only open the door for fan-favorite Rod Smith to find a larger role on offense. The Cowboys will be just fine at RB.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Early Lack of Depth In Running Game Not A Concern" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Ezekiel Elliott Continues to Haunt Eagles, has Best Game of the Season

Matthew Lenix

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Ezekiel Elliott Continues to Haunt Eagles, has Best Game of the Season

The Dallas Cowboys came into their Week 7 matchup with the arch-rival Philadelphia Eagles on a three-game losing streak and were searching desperately for answers. With first place in the NFC East on the line, it was important for the Cowboys to set a tone and send a message at home in order to avoid going into their bye week with a fourth straight loss. That tone was set by the defense in the first quarter as they forced turnovers on the first two possessions of the game. Conversely, All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott led the offensive attack and continued the dominance he's had over the Eagles throughout his career.

After jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead following a fumble on the Eagle's first possession, the Cowboys made it a two-score game in a matter of seconds. In the video below, Elliott appears to score from 14 yards out but would be ruled down inside the one. What's important to notice is how he sought out Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins and ran him over. Complete "Bully Ball" tactic here and it again sent a message and establish a tone for this game. Elliott would score on the very next play to give the Cowboys a 14-0 lead.

The Checkdown on Twitter

Zeke TRUCKED him 😡 @EzekielElliott https://t.co/x2G4rF2cwU

Elliott had 65 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown as well as 25 yards on four receptions the first half. The Cowboys led 27-7 heading into the third quarter.

The second half saw more of the same as Elliott had 11 touches (9 carries, 2 receptions) for 57 all-purpose yards. In all, Elliott finished with 147 all-purpose yards (111 rushing, 36 receiving) as he spearheaded the Cowboys to a 37-10 beatdown of their most hated division rival.

This game was a continuation of what Elliott has done to the Eagles his entire career. His lowest rushing total against Philadelphia is 96 yards which came in his first-ever game in this historic rivalry back in 2016 as a rookie. He's rushed for least 103 yards every game since and averages 163 all-purpose yards every time he plays Philadelphia. Most importantly, the Cowboys are a perfect 5-0 with Elliott against the Eagles. The only games the Eagles have won against the Cowboys since Elliott came into the NFL was the 2016 season finale and the first of their two matchups in 2017, games Elliott did not play in. Needless to say, Elliott has a big appetite for Eagle meat.


This game also saw Elliott reach another milestone in his short but stellar career. He joined Le'Veon Bell and Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as the second-fastest players (47 games) to reach 6,000 yards from scrimmage behind Edgerrin James (44 games) in NFL history. Now that's an elite group to be a part of.

The importance of this game was obvious for the Cowboys coming off at three consecutive losses and facing a heated rival for first place. Elliott spoke post-game about how critical this win was:

"This team needed this, especially in the fashion we did it," Elliott said. "Get some momentum for the season and before this bye week so we can close the season out."

Everything you would want to see from Elliott was on display against the Eagles. The speed, power, elusiveness, and ability to make plays in the passing game were all front and center in this game. From an overall standpoint, this was definitely his best performance of the 2019 season.

Now, the Cowboys head into the bye week in first place in the NFC East and regardless of next week's results, they will still be on top when they face the New York Giants on the road on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys will look to remain undefeated in division play and keep pace with the other NFC powerhouses once they return to action.


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Where Does Ezekiel Elliott Stand in the 2019 Rushing Title Race?

Brian Martin

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Where Does Ezekiel Elliott Stand in the 2019 Rushing Title Race?

The Dallas Cowboys finally looked like the team we've all expected them to be against the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday. They played a complete-game and absolutely dominated on both offense and defense. This is the kind of performance they needed heading into the bye week.

As stoked I am by the way the Dallas Cowboys played Sunday night against a divisional opponent, I was even more ecstatic to see Running Back Ezekiel Elliott look like the playmaker he has in the past. He showed excellent vision, speed, and burst, something I really haven't seen him do up to this point of the season.

I know quite a few of you may disagree with me, but No. 21 hasn't really looke2 like himself at any point this season. He did however look like the Zeke of old on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. It good to see and it actually started me wondering where he currently stood in the 2019 rushing title race?

Let's take a look…


Rk Player Att Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G TD
1 Dalvin Cook 133 19.0 725 5.5 103.6 8
2 Leonard Fournette 144 20.6 715 5.0 102.1 1
3 Christian McCaffrey 127 21.2 618 4.9 103.0 7
4 Nick Chubb 114 19.0 607 5.3 101.2 6
5 Ezekiel Elliott 135 19.3 602 4.5 86.0 6

I don't know exactly what I expected, but I was little surprised to see Zeke currently sitting at number five amongst the NFL's leading rushers. I don't know if I was expecting him to be a little higher or lower, but he currently finds himself within striking distance to claim his third rushing title in four years.

Ezekiel Elliott is only 123 rushing yards behind Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook right now. Unfortunately, that number will only increase in Week 8 with the Dallas Cowboys on their bye week. But, it could all even out since only Nick Chubb is the only RB ahead of Zeke whose team has also had their bye week. And with half of the season left there is still plenty of time to close the gap.

Ezekiel Elliott may be down right now, but he's definitely not out. He's going to play a huge role in the offensive game plan for the rest of the season and should be able to put himself into contention of earning his third rushing title in four years. But, it won't be easy. The Cowboys schedule only gets tougher from here on out.

What do you think? Will Ezekiel Elliott be the leading rusher in 2019?


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Urban Meyer Says He’d “Absolutely” Take Cowboys’ Head Coaching Job

Kevin Brady

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Urban Meyer Says He'd "Absolutely" Take Cowboys' Head Coaching Job

Typically, when a coach is asked about a potential future coaching job that is currently occupied, he'd never openly admit to eyeing that position. He'd dodge the question, lie, and say he's enjoying his time away from the game at the moment.

Former college coach Urban Meyer, however, was extremely clear in how he feels about the potential opening at head coach in Dallas with the Cowboys.

Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd asked Urban Meyer outright if he would take the job if offered, and Meyer made no mistake about it.

"Absolutely."

While it feels to me like Meyer is breaking some sort of unspoken code between coaches with these comments, it wouldn't be the first time he operated in shady waters.

But I digress.


Of course, Urban Meyer had incredible success at the collegiate level. He won multiple national championships and did a lot of winning at multiple programs. In addition, he was the college coach of Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who the team just extended with a monster contract. Meyer also won with quarterbacks who can utilize similar skill-sets to Cowboys starter Dak Prescott, something Jerry Jones and company would want to see in any potential head coaching candidate.

With all that being said, though, it's important to mention the Cowboys head coaching job is not open. At least not yet.

Jason Garrett's contract expires at the end of this season, and unless he can make sure that he continues coaching this team through January, it's seeming increasingly likely that this will be his final contract with the team.

Garrett's Cowboys face their biggest test of the season on Sunday night, with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to Arlington and looking to take first place from their grasps.

This will be the first step of many that Garrett will need to take if he wants to keep the Urban Meyers of the world from coming for his job.


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