The Dallas Cowboys never featured plays with running backs Alfred Morris and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield together, but the possibilities are endless.
It should be known that before Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was caught driving his dodge charger 100 mph in a 70, I started this article. First of all, everyone knows that Ford is the official vehicle of the Dallas Cowboys.
I’m torn because part of me wants to complain that after signing a contract for $24.9 million, he’s driving a dodge charger. His quarterback, Dak Prescott, was a sixth round pick and he arrives to the stadium in a Bentley. So congrats to Elliott for being financially frugal with his vehicle of choice.
Of course, this article would just be a pile-on of negative news about Elliott if I left it at that. That wasn’t the goal. I’ve talked about the usage of Elliott by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. If the Cowboys have long term plans for Elliott, I questioned why have Elliott exceed 400 rushing attempts.
In 2014, quarterback Tony Romo threw 34 touchdowns and nearly led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl with the help of the NFL’s leading rusher, running back DeMarco Murray. Murray had 392 rushing attempts and contributed 57 receptions. The Cowboys were said to be running Murray into the ground because they were going to be releasing him the next season. To understand why Murray had nearly 400 carries, behind him on the depth chart was Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle.
In 2016, the Cowboys attempted to repeat the formula from 2014. Elliott in his rookie season led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards from 322 attempts. Behind Elliott was two time pro bowl running back Alfred Morris and former first round draft pick Darren McFadden. The guys behind Elliott on the depth chart combined for 14 years of experience, 10,379 yards and 2,248 rushing attempts.
After a 1,089 yard season in 2015, McFadden finished the 2016 season with 29 rushing attempts and 87 yards. Morris added 69 rushing attempts and 243 yards. I understand that Elliott was 21 years old with fresh legs and McFadden was injured, but going forward the rushing attempts should be divided better.
Twice, the Cowboys have had the NFL’s leading rusher without a Super Bowl title. The only thing a two or three headed rushing attack hurts is escalators in a player’s contract and our fantasy teams. It’s time for Scott Linehan to make a name for himself with some creativity. He’s added three plays, two standard and one trick: the Lucky Whitehead Jet Sweep, the play action roll out pass to tight end Geoff Swaim and the Dez Bryant to Jason Witten “trick” play.
McFadden showed his adaptation to our offense with a 1,000 yard rushing season. Morris’ addition was praised by the entire front office. Linehan never devised any play with Morris and Elliott in the backfield together. Imagine a 2-back set with two tight ends and Dez Bryant on the outside. Elliott loves to block, it was a strength of his in college. Morris showed his blocking prowess in the Washington Redskins’ read option offense.
I find it hard to believe that the Cowboys trusted Elliott to run the football five times more than Morris. When are rookies truly trusted more than veterans? A prime example takes place daily at barber shops across the country. That new barber with the chair in the back of the shop is literally begging to cut someone’s hair. “Hey man, you need a cut?” “No thanks, I’ll wait 4 hours on Ray-Ray.”
I’m criticized for comparing the NFL to the Electronic Arts John Madden video game, but who doesn’t replace the fullback with a running back? Even without Elliott, the possibilities are endless with the talent in our backfield. It just requires some unbridled creativity by Linehan. I’m sure every member of the backfield would trade an individual rushing title for a Super Bowl ring. If not, they don’t need to be Cowboys.