In the revenge game of Week 4, Ezekiel Elliott visits Dallas for the first time as a visitor with New England.
After seven years in Big D, the Cowboys parted ways with Zeke in the offseason. Some felt it was overdue and that Elliott was at least a couple years into his descent from being one of the top running backs in the NFL. Despite the recent split, Elliott is still revered in Dallas, and owner Jerry Jones still seems to have some affinity for him.
“I know that he was one of the best teammates that I’ve had the privilege of seeing on the Cowboys,” Jones said. “For his team, he was inspirational. He was inspirational before the games, his practice habits were off the charts – he just would basically practice as though every play was for all the marbles. He had very unique skills as a running back, and boy, he could lower that pad and lower that center of gravity.”
According to Jones, he has something planned to honor Elliott. During his time in Dallas, Elliott was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, All-Pro, two-time rushing leader, and Rookie of the Year in 2016. He stacked up the accolades quickly, as much of that was accomplished within his first four years as a pro.
The drop-off in production for Elliott really began around 2020-21. His yards per game dropped from around 85 in ‘19 to 65 during the ‘20 campaign. From there, he fell to just over 58 in his last two seasons as a Cowboy. By then, he was splitting more time with Tony Pollard, but the drop-off was noticeable on the field.
It was a wrap for Elliott, and the writing was on the wall for his Cowboys career. But as usual, Jones held on a bit longer to a player he really liked instead of moving on sooner. Now Elliott is returning, and Jones is attempting to soften the blow with a “surprise,” as he calls it. Meanwhile, Jimmy Johnson is still waiting on his Cowboys Ring of Honor induction. Sure, Zeke was great for a few years with Dallas, but making sense of anything Jones does is bound to cause severe headaches and nausea.
Hopefully, Elliott won’t be fooled by Jones’ tactics and stays focused on beating the Cowboys. After the loss to Arizona last week, Bill Belichick and the Patriots should be keyed in on exactly where to attack Dallas. If New England doesn’t fall behind early, this could be a game where Mac Jones throws much less than he has to thus far this season. And Elliott is coming off an 80-yard rushing game in the Patriots’ win against the Jets.
Expect Belichick to key in on running the ball this week, which can also negate the Micah Parsons effect on the game. The less Jones drops back, the fewer opportunities Parsons has to get to him. Belichick’s defense usually keeps the Pats in games, but they don’t have a closer at quarterback to win most close ones. They beat the Jets, 15-10, in Week 3, but that was against Zach Wilson. If the Pats come in focused on the Cowboys’ weakness defensively, it could be a big day for Elliott, who could have a surprise of his own in store for his former teammates and owner.
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