If you need more proof the Dallas Cowboys offense runs through Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, look no further then the fact they have decided to exclude him from receiving any action in the preseason. It has strictly been a precautionary decision to sit Elliott in preseason, but was it the right move to make?
It's completely understandable the Cowboys are trying to keep Zeke 100% healthy ahead of the 2018 season. He is absolutely pivotal to the teams overall success this year and we know this for sure after watching what the offense looked like in 2017 without him in the lineup. Although, Rod Smith has been pretty fantastic in Zeke's absence throughout preseason.
I completely understand why the Cowboys have chosen to hold Ezekiel Elliott out of the preseason, but it also started me wondering whether or not it could hurt his early-season production? This led me to do a little research to find out if this actually warranted any concern on my part. Unfortunately, what I discovered didn't make me feel much better.
Based on the way Zeke started out both his rookie season in 2016 and last year in 2017, it definitely looks as if it takes a couple of games for him to find his groove. And, that was with some preseason work, as little as it was.
In his first two regular-season games in 2016, Elliott rushed for a measly 51 yards in Week 1 and 83 yards in Week 2. He did manage to score a touchdown in both contests, but only managed about three rushing yards per attempt. Not terrible numbers, but certainly not what we expect from a player of his talent.
Things started off a little better in 2017. In Week 1, Elliott eclipsed the 100 yard mark, rushing for 104 yards on 24 attempts and averaged over four rushing yards per attempt. Unfortunately, Week 2 against the Denver Broncos was a forgettable performance. The entire team struggled, but Zeke only managed a deplorable eight rushing yards on nine attempts.
I know we can all probably come up with several different reasons why Ezekiel Elliott might struggle a little bit when starting off the season, but his preseason work, or lack thereof, is definitely something that has to be factored in. After all, isn't preseason supposed to be utilized to get players up to speed?
Thankfully, Zeke really hasn't received a lot of preseason playing time in his career with the Dallas Cowboys and has still been able to be successful. He may struggle a little the first few games of the season, but there many contributing factors as to why that may be.
Although I may be a little concerned Zeke might get off to a slow start in 2018, I kind of think things could be different this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he's wanting to make a statement after the turmoil Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL put him through last year. I think we will see him run a little angry from the start, meaning his early-season production could possibly be better than his first two years in the league.