Why Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott will not win league MVP
By Tyrone Starr
Even though he may be the best player on the best team, there is a real chance that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will not be the NFL MVP.
Ezekiel Elliott is nothing short of a force of nature.
Heading in to the final week of the season, the Dallas Cowboys rookie has already become one of the best at his position.
Elliott will win the NFL rushing title as he currently leads that category by almost 400 yards of the next guy behind him. He is third in overall touchdowns and needs just 178 yards to break the all-time rookie rushing record.
Not only is Elliott one of the biggest reasons why the Dallas Cowboys are tied for the best record in football, his personality is equally large.
You know about the cropped shirts, the infectious smile and the ultra-fun dance moves whenever he scores. His locker room hijinks are both entertaining and endearing. You may not know about his affection for children and dogs and all the charitable work he does on both fronts.
Everything about Ezekiel Elliott says Most Valuable Player.
If it comes into fruition, he would be the first rookie to earn MVP honors since Jim Brown in 1957.
Just do not expect him to win the actual award.
Elliott has a few arbitrary things going against him which will almost certainly prevent him from being named MVP.
Primarily, in order for a running back to do so, that player has to do something extraordinary.
Since 1996, only six running backs have won the league’s Most Valuable Player.
In 1997, Detroit Lions rusher Barry Sanders became the third player ever to rush for 2,000+ in a season. He posted an NFL record 14 consecutive 100-yard games, going for 200 yards twice. For those accomplishments, he had to share the award with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre.
The following season, Denver Broncos back Terrell Davis became the league’s MVP. Davis also rushed for 2,000+ yards while leading the league in rushing touchdowns (21). His Broncos won their second Super Bowl in a row, largely thanks to his contributions in the running game.
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Marshall Faulk was the next running back to win the MVP, doing so in the 2000 season. In order for him to do so, he had to break the record for most touchdowns in a season (26). Faulk also totaled 2,189 yards from scrimmage which, at the time, was 11th best in NFL history.
In 2005, Seattle Seahawks rusher Shaun Alexander became the MVP after breaking Faulk’s record with 28 touchdowns. He led the league in rushing while taking the Seahawks to the NFC’s best record. Thanks to Alexander, the Seahawks also made their first Super Bowl in team history.
Alexander was also helped by the fact that only one quarterback had 30+ touchdowns that season and only two had a passer rating above 100.
The following season, after breaking Alexander’s touchdown record with 31 of his own, San Diego Chargers back LaDanian Tomlinson earned MVP honors. Not only did he lead the league in rushing, he also led the Chargers to the best record in football. His 2,323 yards from scrimmage is the sixth best total of all-time.
The last running back to earn MVP honors was Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson in 2009. That year, Peterson came just nine yards shy of the all-time rushing record. The 2,314 yards from scrimmage Peterson amassed is currently the eighth best mark of all-time.
Elliott is not even leading the league in touchdowns, let alone breaking the all-time record. He’s also about 400 yards short of 2,000. He is, however, helping lead his team to the best record this season but that, too, is a problem.
Elliott just so happens to be “fighting” with another rookie on his own team for both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. That fellow rookie also plays the one position that happens to dominate the MVP award.
There is another obstacle in the way of Elliott’s candidacy for MVP. Ironically, it might just be his own quarterback Dak Prescott.
Naysayers to Zeke’s chances will point out that the Dallas Cowboys were 4-12 last season with a running back that finished fourth in rushing yards. They will say that the difference in their fortunes comes down to having a capable quarterback.
They may also use his draft status against him.
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As the fourth overall pick, there is a certain expectation level that comes along for the ride. This is especially true when that player is being compared to someone drafted 131 spots later in the fourth round.
Should Ezekiel Elliott win the 2016 NFL MVP award?
History indicates that answer will likely be no.