Asking Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to get 200+ yards each week isn’t a winning formula for long-term success or Super Bowl trophies.
The 2018 Dallas Cowboys realize that every victory in the NFL is important. The NFL regular season is a very short 16 games in 17 weeks, especially when compared to other sports. Defeating the Detroit Lions last Sunday was a very good win, but it wasn’t unexpected. Cowboy Nation should expect a victory over the Houston Texans as well.
The NFL is a game of matchups. In a team sport, it usually isn’t as simple as saying – Team A is better than Team B. The deciding factor might be two individuals. For this game against the Texans, I compare the Cowboys rushing offense against their rushing defense. This should probably be done every game because our offense is built around running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Based on statistics from last season, the Detroit Lions ranked 19th in run defense and allowed 112.5 yards per game. The Houston Texans ranked 12th in run defense and allowed 109 yards per game. With a short sample size from this season, they have improved and are allowing 94 rushing yards per game. Without looking too far ahead, the Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing 95 rushing yards per game.
For many teams, rushing defense is a matter of pride. The Cowboys’ run defense is allowing less than 100 rushing yards (97.8), but the passing defense is leaving something to be desired.
Against the Cowboys, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 80% of his passes, going 24 – 30, for 307 yards and two touchdowns. This season, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has three 300 yard passing games (310, 385, 375) even though the Texans have a 1 – 3 record and probably the NFL’s worst offensive line.
If Watson can remain upright, I expect Watson to put up spectacular passing numbers like Stafford. Hopefully, yards won’t equal points. Plus, the Cowboys passing defense should improve with future Hall of Fame safety Jeff Health returning to the field.
In many ways, the Cowboys victory against the Lions reminded me of the 2016 season. Elliott finished as the NFL’s leading rusher then and he leads the NFL in rushing yards today (426).
It took a career high of 240 yards from scrimmage by Elliott to lead the Cowboys to victory against the Lions. A win secured by kicker Brett Maher‘s game-winning field goal.
With Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott averaging 188 passing yards per game, I am baffled that the Lions didn’t focus on stopping Elliott. I doubt that the Texans and Jaguars will make that mistake.
Elliott can seemingly win games single-handedly. Yet, I believe that asking Elliott to get 200+ yards each week isn’t a winning formula for long-term success, Super Bowl trophies or an extended career as a Cowboy.
Enjoy the wins, but to reach the next level offensively – can we agree that this team needs better production on a consistent basis from Prescott. Elliott can’t continue to be a one-man show.