Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott is back and in a big way

Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

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Dallas Cowboys running back, Ezekiel Elliott, appears to have heard the rumblings of his downfall and demise. Amidst the reports of his skills diminishing, the talk of potentially cutting down his touches, and some asking if he will ever return to the Zeke that Cowboys fans remember, all he has done is bounce back and reminded everyone what he brings to the table.

All that Zeke has done is average nearly 99 all-purpose yards per game and four scores throughout the first four games. His rushing totals have increased every week, most recently topped off with a 143-yard, one touchdown effort running rampant all over the Carolina Panthers defense.

Earlier this year we looked at what to realistically expect for Elliott, which was largely in part to the reports that he was in the “best shape of his life” coming into training camp. So far, Elliott is very ahead of schedule with his rushing output. Through 4 games, Elliott is on pace for 1,453 yards, which is exceptional.

Ezekiel Elliott has found his groove on the Dallas Cowboys in 2021

Against a Panthers defense that many believed were very stout against the run defense, we saw the burst from Zeke that made him so special early in his career.  Elliott punished the Panthers for 112 yards after contact along with four runs of 10 yards or more. The Panthers’ defense was worn down as the game entered the late stages.

This was incredibly evident on the final drive of the game as the Cowboys were trying to close things out and not let this game get any more unnecessarily close. The Cowboys, the Panthers, and all 93,000 fans in attendance knew the Cowboys were going to run the ball down the stretch. It simply did not matter. Elliott had already broken the spirit of the Panthers and, with the help of backfield partner, Tony Pollard, put the game on ice.

I analyzed how the personnel grouping of Elliott and Pollard could give defenses fits this year. To be successful, Elliott needs to be a downhill threat like he has been. This was clear on the play to close this game out. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore put Elliott and Pollard in the backfield together and let the two running backs run a speed option. Defenses have enough to worry about in simply stopping the run game, let alone the possibility of both backs hurting them on the same play.

The Cowboys still have a potent passing attack as evidenced by quarterback Dak Prescott casually chipping in four touchdown tosses. Even with those four scores through the air, the Cowboys rolled up 245 rushing yards led by a monster game by Elliott.

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This rushing attack has found its groove over the last three weeks and is doing so many things for this team. It takes the will out of other teams, opens up the play-action passing game, and lets the Cowboys control the tempo of the game. Elliott is back in the form we all hoped would return and I expect his resurgence to continue. The Cowboys have Zeke back.