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Sean’s Scout: Impact Of Ezekiel Elliott’s Return On Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Impact Of Ezekiel Elliott's Return On Cowboys Offense

The defending NFL rushing champion is back to run behind the best offensive line in the league again, as Ezekiel Elliott is set to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Eve against the Seahawks. Having served his six game suspension, Elliott played in the Cowboys' first eight games of this season - totaling 783 rushing yards on 191 carries.

An average of just under 24 rushing attempts per game, there is no doubt the Cowboys are excited about adding Zeke back to an offense that is still leading a team in contention for an NFC playoff berth.

Much has been made about Elliott's playing weight heading into these final two regular season games, as downtime spent in Mexico has the 2016 first round pick looking like he did at Ohio State. With this in mind, I decided to look at the film from Elliott's early season contributions and highlight what the Cowboys are getting back on Sunday.

Ezekiel Elliott Vs Packers - Streamable

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As I wrote about in my Sean's Scout piece following this team's win in Oakland last week, the Cowboys did not utilize both of their RBs in Alfred Morris and Rod Smith as effectively as they could have. Thus, the first thing the Cowboys are adding with Elliott is a dynamic player that combines the strengths of every back below him on the depth chart while adding his own special talents in a rare mix of physical traits.

Ezekiel Elliott was drafted to punish defenses on the second and third level, and if he has truly committed to playing with less weight that he did earlier in this season, the Cowboys' running game is going to be as explosive as ever.

Running behind an offensive line that essentially grants any back a free pass to the second level, Elliott reads blocks in front of him with elite vision and quickness. In the above play against the Packers,watch as Elliott picks up speed to the outside and commits to his path up the field with Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith out in front.

The angle Elliott takes allows Smith to reach the only defender with a chance to limit the gain on this play, as Zeke uses his block to cut back to the sideline and finish the run.

Ezekiel Elliott Vs 49ers - Streamable

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Having a player that can break you for a big play on every snap completely changes a defense's perspective, but one that can take the angle on all eleven guys and score is the definition of a "match up nightmare".

Jonathan Cooper and La'el Collins' blocks pave the path for Elliott to spring into the end zone here, but the burst he cuts through the hole with is enough to completely change the dynamic of this Dallas offense upon his return.

Alfred Morris and Rod Smith did a fine job in Ezekiel Elliott's absence at keeping Dak Prescott ahead of the chains, but he still faced tough passing situations on later downs as Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley were routinely double covered.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Dez Bryant on Ezekiel Elliott returning and the impact it'll have on how teams defend Dez: "Double all you want, he's gonna rush for 350.

Now, a Cowboys passing game built around winning individual match ups can once again thrive off of using Zeke Elliott as a rusher, pass catcher, and blocker.

Ezekiel Elliott Vs Giants - Streamable

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This play from all the way back in week one may not be the longest gain of Elliott's season, but it was one of my favorite plays to see on film. With the Giants creating good penetration here, Elliott amazingly squares his shoulders to the sideline with the backside pursuit on him.

Still able to find his way out to the pulling blocks of Zack Martin and La'el Collins, Elliott's patience and vision is rewarded as he extends the play through a small crease for a first down - delivering a big blow at the end of the run.

Paired with the expectation that Elliott will carry the ball with even more elusiveness moving forward, preparing for a Seahawks defense that was just shredded for 244 yards on the ground via the LA Rams, the Cowboys offense should quickly remind people in week 16 that they won 13 games with this same unit just last year.

Ezekiel Elliott Vs Rams - Streamable

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Ground plays like these were simply missing in Dallas without Ezekiel Elliott, and a 3-3 record through the games they played without him is likely all Cowboys Nation could have asked for. It may have them in a precarious position for the playoffs, and two games of Zeke will surely do little to fill our appetite for Scott Linehan's unit pouring on points, but ending the season with continuity on this side of the ball is so important.

Should the Cowboys sneak into the playoffs with a fresh and motivated Ezekiel Elliott? A season mired in controversy and disappointment could have the sweetest of endings thanks to this generational talent being given the early Christmas gift of fresh legs in must-win games.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Impact Of Ezekiel Elliott’s Return On Cowboys Offense" 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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1 Comment
  • Randy Martin

    For those that continue to bemoan and place blame at the feet of the loss of Elliot for our 3-3 record let me draw your attention to the loss of Sean Lee and Tyron Smith in those 3 losses. Against Atlanta we trailed 10-7 at the half, against Philly we trailed 9-7, and against the Chargers we trailed 3-0. In all cases their offenses made adjustments at halftime that our Lee-less defense could not handle and our offense was unable to play from behind because we did not have an offensive game plan to counter. Clearly Elliot is a special back and could have been a difference maker that perhaps could have overcome Smith’s absence those first two losses, but we have been unable, historically, to overcome Lee’s absence. Had Lee been healthy we would have been no worse than 4-2 in those games and we would be in the catbird sat instead of staring up at it. For this very reason LB should be a strong consideration in the first round and Roquan Smith should be on the radar!

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Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



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Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler

John Williams

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5 Bye Week Adjustments Cowboys Hopefully Made

The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.

According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.

Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.

To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.

If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.

If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.

This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.

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I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.

Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?



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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

Sean Martin

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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon's Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

It's Sunday morning and the Cleveland Browns are expected to make a questionable decision by tomorrow, which is far from news for a Dallas Cowboys team waiting around for a crucial Sunday Night Football home game tonight. With Cleveland expected to part ways with troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon though, the Cowboys have understandably been linked to Gordon, even more so now with the talented pass catcher stating his own interest in America's Team.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

As teams discuss potentially trading for outgoing #Browns WR Josh Gordon, I'm told he's got his eye on two in particular: The #Cowboys and the #49ers.

Before looking into this any further, it's necessary to point out an all-important missing detail. Without any reports of the Cowboys own interest in Gordon, the soon-to-be free agent is simply the latest player to say he'd like to play for the Cowboys - hardly anything new for the Jones.

The Cowboys need for a player like Gordon has never been more evident though. Heavily criticized throughout the offseason for how they handled their wide receivers, the Cowboys passing game was a non-factor in the team's 16-8 week one loss.

Signing or trading for Gordon could do little to fix this, but the risk may also prove worthwhile for Dallas. The Baylor Bears product did put up 1,646 yards in 2013 with minimal talent around him, and has a career 17.3 yards per reception.

His ability to take the top off a defense is something the Cowboys are sorely missing. What they won't miss from not acquiring Gordon is the off-field trouble, taking on a player that missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to suspension.

Last season,  Gordon was reinstated for the Browns final five games.

The NFL is, at least cautiously, easing their policy on players suspended for marijuana usage. Look no further than the Cowboys own Randy Gregory to prove this, as Gregory has already become a success story for the league by being with the Cowboys this season.

Whether or not Gregory plays on Sunday night (officially listed as DOUBTFUL) after suffering a concussion in his long-awaited return last week is yet to be determined. So too is Josh Gordon's future as the latest player on his way out of Cleveland.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @gmfb Weekend: The #Browns plan to release Josh Gordon after he showed up late, injured his hamstring during a photo shoot, and in general completely lost their trust. https://t.co/cX2HGZPBXi

I'm of the belief that Gordon won't last long on the open market, meaning this won't be the latest Cowboys story/non-story to drag through the presses. Any fan looking to pass time between now and kickoff against the Giants could probably find me saying the same about free agent WR Dez Bryant however.

Thanks to Bryant still being a free agent along with former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, the team has looked smarter than expected in the long-term on moves like these.

If there's a smart way to bring on Josh Gordon, Dallas should be considering that too.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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