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Thread: Gosselin: An alarming Zeke trend has developed, and Cowboys blew their chance to avoid it vs. Packers

  1. #1
    One-armed Knife Sharpener Iamtdg's Avatar
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    Gosselin: An alarming Zeke trend has developed, and Cowboys blew their chance to avoid it vs. Packers

    An alarming Zeke trend has developed, and Cowboys blew their chance to avoid it vs. Packers
    By Rick Gosselin , Special Contributor

    ARLINGTON -- When Ezekiel Elliott is the best running back on the field, the Cowboys are the best team on the field.

    That's why I gave him both my NFL MVP and Offensive Rookie of the Year vote for The Associated Press last season. Elliott was the reason the Cowboys won 13 games, claimed the NFC East and captured the top seed in the NFC playoff bracket. He was the reason the Cowboys were able to survive a year ago with a rookie quarterback and a defense that lacked sacks and takeaways. With the ball in the hands of the NFL's leading rusher, the Cowboys could control the clock, the opponent and the game.

    But Elliott wasn't the best back on the field Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Rookie Aaron Jones, a fifth-round draft pick from Texas-El Paso making his first career start, was better, and, as a result, the Packers were the better team, winning 35-31.

    Jones outgained Elliott, 125-116, and also scored a touchdown. Elliott did not. Why is that important?

    Because in Elliott's rookie season, he played 16 games counting the playoffs and was the best back on the field and leading rusher in 15 of them. The Cowboys won 13 of those games. The one game he wasn't the best back -- the season opener against the Giants -- Rashad Jennings outgained Elliott, 75-51, and the Giants prevailed, 20-19.

    Elliott was the best back in two other games, rushing for 100-plus yards in the rematch against the Giants and also the playoff game against the Packers, but Dallas lost both by a combined seven points.

    The alarming part for Cowboys coaches is that Elliott has not been the best back on the field in three of their five games this season and the Cowboys have lost all three. C.J. Anderson outgained Elliott 118-8 in Denver's 42-17 victory in the second weekend, Todd Gurley topped Elliott 121-85 in a 35-30 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth weekend and Jones outrushed Elliott on Sunday.

    Elliott was the best back on the field in both victories, rushing for 104 yards in the opener against the Giants and 85 yards in the third weekend against the Cardinals.

    What's alarming about the Green Bay loss is that Elliott could very easily have been the best back on the field. Trailing 28-24, the Cowboys got the ball with 9:49 left in the game at their own 21. Elliott gashed the Packers for 35 yards and four first downs with his legs, even converting a fourth-and-1 with a smart reach of the football at the Green Bay 19.

    Then Elliott swept eight yards around left end to the Green Bay 11 with 1:24 remaining. The Packers had only one timeout left, so it should have been Elliott's game the rest of the way. He was averaging 4.0 yards per carry in the game and 5.0 yards per carry in that final drive against a gassed Green Bay defense. Keeping the ball in Elliott's hands would further wind the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.

    Instead, on second and 2, Prescott threw a fade to Dez Bryant in the end zone that fell incomplete. That stopped the clock with 1:18 left. Green Bay didn't have to burn its final timeout. On third and 2, Prescott faked to Elliott up the middle and then sprinted around left end for a go-ahead touchdown.

    One problem -- that left 73 seconds on the clock for the NFL's best quarterback. Have you seen this script before?

    Last January, Rodgers drove the Packers 43 yards in the final 35 seconds for the game-winning field goal in a 34-31 triumph over the Cowboys in the NFC semifinals at this same stadium. Seventy-three seconds this go-round was a lifetime. Rodgers marched the Packers 75 yards in nine plays, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds left.

    Back to Elliott. If the Cowboys just kept the ball in his hands on their final touchdown drive -- three more inside handoffs would have likely given him 11 more yards and a touchdown -- thus making him the best back on the field, outgaining Jones 127-125. And it would have denied Rodgers those precious seconds he would need to mount a comeback.

    The Cowboys never took the ball out of Emmitt Smith's hands when the game was on the line back when they were winning Super Bowls. He owned the fourth quarter. And they shouldn't take it out of Elliott's hands when the game is on the line. He is their best player. Give your best player a chance to win the game. When the ball is in his hands, the clock is your friend. When it's out of his hands, the clock becomes your enemy.

    Because the Cowboys didn't give Elliott a chance at the end to be the best player on the field, they gave Aaron Rodgers that opportunity.

    And that was a mistake.
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  2. #2
    Make DCC Great Again midswat's Avatar
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    Yeah we were having our way with them that final drive. I mean, they were a mash unit and gassed. Which is why that second down pass was so bad. We really should’ve just kept feeding Zeke.

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    Teh Acester Texas Ace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by midswat View Post
    Yeah we were having our way with them that final drive. I mean, they were a mash unit and gassed. Which is why that second down pass was so bad. We really should’ve just kept feeding Zeke.
    Whether it was Zeke or Murray before him, we do this time and time and time again.

    That's why it infuriates me to no end when our running game is clicking and we have a 2nd and 1 and we line up in an empty set.

    It's shit like this that just will not ever change under Garrett.

    We will continue to inexplicably pass the ball in situations where we shouldn't.
    2013 DCC Fantasy Football Champeen

  4. #4
    Senior Member p1_'s Avatar
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    I can only hope that the sports writers will harp on it in the Garrett pressers. I hope he does get defensive about it, it sucks out loud.
    Romo's gone. Dak is the new boss.

  5. #5
    Senior Member lostxn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by midswat View Post
    Yeah we were having our way with them that final drive. I mean, they were a mash unit and gassed. Which is why that second down pass was so bad. We really should’ve just kept feeding Zeke.
    Let's not get too carried away. Zeke converted a 4th and 1/2 by the nose of the ball. We were able to run because they were playing two deep safety for whatever reason on the plays we gashed them. There is no guarantee we would have made any yards running it to Zeke.

  6. #6
    Senior Member p1_'s Avatar
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    that fourth down was so close, it looked to me like it was short. I was surprised when we actually got that call.
    Romo's gone. Dak is the new boss.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cowboysrock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostxn View Post
    Let's not get too carried away. Zeke converted a 4th and 1/2 by the nose of the ball. We were able to run because they were playing two deep safety for whatever reason on the plays we gashed them. There is no guarantee we would have made any yards running it to Zeke.
    We had also converted two previous fourth and shorts with no problem in the game. So yeah, give him a couple of plays to get one yard and I feel good about it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DLK150's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p1_ View Post
    that fourth down was so close, it looked to me like it was short. I was surprised when we actually got that call.
    So was I.

    It will take awhile for this OL unit to gel though, there have been too many pieces swapped out. Zeke didn't do it all on his own last year.

  9. #9
    Super Duper Moderator mcnuttz's Avatar
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    If they would just ride that hungry mf'er, we would keep the defense off the field.

    I'm talking about in the 1st half, too. Those early leads aren't doing much good when your defense is getting gutted.

    Let him wear the defense down and give your own defense a rest, it's really not that frikkin difficult.

    I hate to go all conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if they're holding him back because of the legal issues for some reason. It almost seems that they want to make Dak the shining star of the offense rather than riding the best running game in the NFL to easy wins.

  10. #10
    Teh Acester Texas Ace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnuttz View Post
    I hate to go all conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if they're holding him back because of the legal issues for some reason. It almost seems that they want to make Dak the shining star of the offense rather than riding the best running game in the NFL to easy wins.
    I think you're reaching, my friend.

    I don't think it has anything to do with how they view Zeke or any sort of lack of trust in him.

    It simply comes down to Garrett, and probably even Linehan, just having more faith in the pass than the run simply because they prefer the former over the latter.

    This exact same thing was happening with Romo and Murray, and then again last year, so this is just a continuation of a trend that has existed for years here.

    Why do you think we idiotically line up in an empty set on a 2nd and 1?

    Our coaches are just obsessed with the passing game so they can only go so long before they feel a pass is needed.
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