The Dallas Cowboys are going into this season with one clear cur top play maker on the offensive side: Ezekiel Elliot. When Dez Bryant was around, they had another dynamic option in the passing game. Now, they will need to lean on Elliot even more to provide the explosive plays that they need.
With the offensive line they have, the Cowboys will be the most prolific running team in the NFL this season. Elliot will never have to worry about getting his touches in the back field, and the Cowboys will not be winning any games when Elliot is not able to the tone on the ground.
The problem, however, is that the Cowboys have been far too predictable on offense. The Cowboys know that they can impose their will battling for those short yardage plays, but they still need to do a better job of keeping the defense honest, and making sure things do not get too difficult for Elliot on the ground.
The Cowboys can do more things to get play makers the space they need on the outside, and give Dak Prescott easy opportunities to get chunk yards. The Cowboys clearly have a lot of work to do with their passing attack, and once again they should be looking to Elliot to bring new ways to attack a team.
We have seen that Elliot is one of the most special athletes in the NFL, and getting him isolated against any linebacker or safety would be an absolute nightmare. The Cowboys can get Prescott easy completions while keeping the defense a bit more honest with their stacked box with Elliot.
The concern is that Elliot has been quite insignificant in his career as a pass catching running back. You can see the talent is there to be effective, but the Cowboys have never integrated it enough.
In his first two seasons, Elliot has a total of 58 receptions. Last season was not full, but that does not make up nearly enough of the difference. There were nine running backs in the NFL last season that caught more passes in that one season that Elliot has in two.
He will never reach these numbers, but you have running backs that are getting over 80 receptions in a season now. There are a lot of dynamic runners in today’s game, and the Cowboys are selling themselves short by not allowing one of the best athletes in the entire NFL to have an impact in the passing game.
By integrating Elliot in the passing game more, you automatically make things more complicated for defenses to game plan against. You have to think about another potential disastrous matchup.
Keep in mind, the Cowboys do not have good enough wide receivers to continually be putting pressure on secondaries. The Cowboys have talent, and a lot will depend on how much Prescott is able to do. Even so, a top secondary has very little to fear against the Cowboys, but Elliot can change that.
Just the attention he can draw in will open things up for the less talented players in the receiving core, and that also has a direct impact on how easy things are on Prescott.
Prescott had such a special rookie season because the Cowboys never asked him to do more than he was capable of. He was a part of a system that allowed him to succeed. Last season, it became clear that the Cowboys need to do a better job of putting Prescott into a position to succeed, and having Elliot as a weapon in the passing game on a consistent basis can have a huge impact on the overall offense.