Ezekiel Elliott is the key to the Cowboys success moving beyond week one. The Buccaneers blanketed Elliott in the rush game, who only registered 33 rush yards on 11 carries. Elliott also struggled to catch passes racking up only six yards on two catches. With recent injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys will have to control time of possession to spell their reeling defense.
Ezekiel Elliott is the Key to Success vs. the Chargers
Elliott’s Rough Game vs. Tampa Bay
Elliott’s production has been dwindling over the last season, including opening night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The run game was shut down from the word go against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers boast what is widely considered one of the best defenses in the NFL, especially their run defense. This was a tough matchup for Elliott, but a $90 million NFL running back is expected to run for more than 33 yards. Elliott and the Cowboys thrive on controlling the clock and leaning on opposing teams. When Dallas is firing on all cylinders, Elliott and the offensive line pace the Cowboys. Prescott and Amari Cooper look to take advantage of the secondary when the opposition loads the box to stop the run.
Pct of rushes with 8+ defenders in the box in Week 1:
1. Ezekiel Elliott 54.6%
2. Mark Ingram 50%
3. Austin Ekeler 46.7%
4. Latavius Murray 40%
5. James Conner 37.5%
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) September 16, 2021
Couldn’t Make One Man Miss
Elliott clearly did not have his best stuff last Thursday night. Dallas trailed by five points, 16-21 early in the third quarter when Dak Prescott pitched the ball to Elliott on third and goal. Blake Jarwin missed his blocking assignment, leaving Elliott one-on-one with Andrew Adams. Adams dragged Elliott to the ground after a feeble attempt to make the Safety miss. It’s obvious Elliott isn’t in mid-season form unable to make one man miss to waltz into the endzone.
Out of the Box Score, but On the Field
Elliott earned playing time throughout the game, picking up the pass rush while Prescott threw the ball 58 times for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott should be on the shortlist for MVP this season if Dallas can put together a playoff berth. Teams become increasingly easier to defend when they become one-dimensional. Even though the Buccaneers knew Dallas would only move the ball through the air, they were still unable to slow this offense down.
Week Two Matchup vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Dallas travels to play Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers in week two. The Chargers and their sophomore quarterback have one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL featuring Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. The already poor Cowboys defense suffers another blow losing Demarcus Lawrence to a broken foot this week in practice. Any hope of stopping the Chargers offense significantly diminished after the Cowboys lost their best pass rusher.
Highest-graded 2nd year offensive players
🦅 Jalen Hurts – 89.5
⚡️ Justin Herbert – 84.7 pic.twitter.com/vSqOWIE6gV
— PFF (@PFF) September 13, 2021
The Cowboys offense can help their defense by limiting the Chargers time of possession. If Elliott and the offensive line are able to establish the run game and control tempo, the Cowboys defense can play with fresher legs. The Cowboys defense is already one of the worst in the NFL. Playing tired will expose their weaknesses and could lead to another historically bad season defensively.
If Elliott can get the ground game going, the Cowboys will be able to control time of possession. With the defense spending most of the game off the field, a fresh Dallas defense should be able to hold up to the Chargers explosive passing attack. Pressuring Herbert is a crucial part of this contest. A tired Dallas defense could lead to more time for Herbert to find the open receiver in this high octane offense.
Dallas Needs a Balanced Offense
With Prescott playing the best football in his career, Dallas could make some noise in the NFL this season. The Cowboys should strive to balance their offense and limit opposing teams’ possessions. This defense is likely to struggle until Lawrence and Neville Gallimore return, and until the recently drafted rookies begin to play like experienced players. Elliott and a solid run attack is the consistency the Cowboys need to make a playoff run in 2021.