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Will No Preseason Work Hurt Ezekiel Elliott’s Early Season Production?

Brian Martin

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No Preseason Work Hurt Ezekiel Elliott's Early Season Production?

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.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

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.

Will no preseason action hurt Ezekiel Elliott's early-season production?



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.

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6 Comments
  • Alon Costin

    WAY more worries about Travis then Zeke. He’ll be fine if that line can be cohesive to start.
    Simply, its gonna be a rough start waiting for Trav and Zack to get back at 100%

    • BUDDY

      Travis probably wont play this season. This season is slowly turning into shit! Another fucked up bullshit season! We cant catch a break! Same ole same ole…

  • TxBoss23

    Stating that Zeke’s lack of preseason work “is definitely something that has to be factored in” is a statement of facts not in evidence. In his first season Zeke wasn’t patient, didn’t wait for the blocking to develop in front of him. Once he started doing that in week 3, he really took off. Do you really think he is going to make that mistake to start this season? As for last year, the whole season was affected by the off-field issues and constant back and forth over whether he was going to be suspended or not. I do not believe for a minute that Zeke needs reps in preseason games to be ready for week one. That being said, if we are missing Frederick and Martin week one we could very well see Zeke not reach 100 yards. But it won’t be because he didn’t play in the preseason.

  • David carter

    Can’t help but think that Goodell isn’t done with Zeke after the thanksgiving day parade flash. Perhaps Dallas is preparing for another zeke suspension? We all know how the comisioners office is hush hush until the season starts. Goodell will spoil yet another cowboys season with his liberal games.

    • Ole Resinhead

      No NFL rules were broken he’s Gucci bro chill

  • Ethan Chazin

    1300 yards rushing, 14 TDs, 300 yards receiving for Zeke. Money$

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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