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Dak And Zeke Report: Zeke Leads The Way

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In their fifth game, against a team expected to give them problems, Dak and Zeke led the Cowboys to a dominant 28-0 lead and coasted in from there.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Another week yields another dominant performance by Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott! Instead of falling behind like the team did in three of its first four games, Dak and Zeke, with a lot of help from the Dallas defense, were in complete control this time, racing to a 21-0 lead at halftime, and 28-0 lead after Dallas’s first play of the second half. Dallas scored on drives of 64 yards, 89 yards, 89 yards, and 60 yards.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cowboys are the first team in NFL history to have a 1,000-yard rookie passer and a 500-yard rookie rusher through the first 5 games of a season.

Dak Prescott had his second-best statistical game, though he did finally turn the ball over on a sack-fumble after the game was essentially over. He still hasn’t thrown an interception in 155 career attempts, and is now just seven passes short of Tom Brady’s record without an interception to start a career. Since Carson Wentz has thrown a pick, Dak no longer has any competition for his assault on the record.

Since this game was against Cincinnati, a perennial playoff team in recent seasons, Dallas was actually a home underdog. But it dominated the game from the opening kickoff, winning 28-14. Dallas is now 4-1.

Dak Prescott

Dak’s stats from his first five weeks.

Week QB Cmp Att Cmp% Yds ANY/A TD Int Rate
1 Prescott 25 45 55.60% 227 5 69.4
2 Prescott 22 30 73.30% 292 8.2 103.7
3 Prescott 19 24 79% 248 11.1 1 123.6
4 Prescott 23 32 71.90% 245 8.05 2 114.7
5 Prescott 18 24 75.00% 227 9.68 1 117.9
Total 107 155 69% 1239 7.95 4 101.52

(Note: The key stats here are Adjusted Net Yards per attempt, which demonstrates how well a QB gets the ball down the field and into the end zone. Completion percentage tends to show accuracy. Attempts shows the run/pass balance, with fewer attempts for QBs often the goal. Turnovers, or the lack of them, are also critical.)

Dak had another game with a completion percentage well above 70%, an absurdly good 9.68 ANY/A, a passing TD to Cole Beasley (his first) and a rushing TD on a superb read-option fake to Zeke. His passer rating is now over 100 points, at 101.5.

Once again, Dak won the passer rating differential for the Cowboys 117.9 to 104.6, which is a key variable in who wins football games.

Dez Bryant was again out, but it didn’t seem to matter at all. Terrance Williams led with five catches on five targets for 70 yards, Cole Beasley had four catches on four targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. Jason Witten had three catches for 43 yards, and one of the most fun plays of the game when he stiff-armed a would-be tackler like he was flicking away a fly. Ezekiel Elliott caught three balls for 37 yards, Brice Butler added two for 20, and Rod Smith one for four yards.

Rather than compare Dak to his fellow “rookie” quarterbacks, I’m going to follow up on a post from last week which compares Dak Prescott’s stats to Tony Romo’s stats from 2014, Romo’s best season. After this game, Dak is now clearly ahead of Romo’s 2014 start.

Here are Tony Romo’s 2014 stats after five games.

Week QB Cmp Att Cmp% Yds ANY/A TD Int Rate
1 Romo 23 37 62.16 281 3.5 1 3 60.8
2 Romo 19 29 65.52 176 5.09 1 93.5
3 Romo 18 23 78.26 217 9.21 2 1 116.8
4 Romo 22 29 75.86 262 10.5 3 137.4
5 Romo 28 41 68.29 324 7.59 2 1 98
Total 110 159 69.5 1260 6.8 9 5 98.52

The Dallas Cowboys offense is running every bit as well under Dak Prescott as it did under Tony Romo to this point in 2014. People keep predicting that the tests for Dak will grow too large, and he keeps mastering them.

Dak’s only real mistake was the sack-fumble that ended Dallas’s scoring, and allowed Cincinnati to drive for its first touchdown. Third down efficiency was 50%, which matches their league-leading rate. His longest pass was 31 yards to Jason Witten, which Witten extended by flicking away a defender who lamely tried to tackle him. But he still didn’t attempt any real deep balls. Why should he if the offense is running this well?

Ezekiel Elliott

How did Zeke do in game five? He just keeps getting better. Yards per attempt? How about 8.9. Touchdowns? How about two more, for five total. Breakaway runs? He finally had the home-run TD run for 60 yards on the Cowboys first play from scrimmage in the second half. It made the score 28-0 and essentially iced the game.

  • Rushing: 15 carries, 134 yards, 8.9 YPC, 2 TD, long 60 yards, no fumbles
  • Receiving: 3 receptions, 4 targets, 37 yards.

What do his totals look like after 4 games?

Week RB Carries Yards Y/A Catches Yards TD Fum
1 Elliott 20 51 2.55 1 1 1
2 Elliott 21 83 3.95 2 4 1 2
3 Elliott 30 140 4.67 2 20
4 Elliott 23 138 6 1 19 1
5 Elliott 15 134 8.9 3 37 2
Total 109 546 5 9 81 5 2

This is even better than last week. Indeed, every week Zeke has performed better than the last. He is the leading rusher in the NFL (DeMarco Murray is #2). He has five runs of 20+ yards (David Johnson and LeSean McCoy have four each). He’s clearly in sync with his blockers.

Here was Bob Sturm’s post-game offensive grade — A+

This offense is bordering on ridiculous. The first five actual possessions went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown. In the NFL, where every opponent must be respected, that is what you call a early-round TKO of what many (including this author) considered to be a very formidable challenge. They are clicking on all cylinders with yet another 400 yard production day, another 50% third down day, and a balanced attack that gives fits to all opponents. Dak Prescott was good again, but the beauty on this day is he wasn't asked to do too much heavy lifting. In fact, the way this offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott are playing, it sure looks like the passing game can enjoy being used in moderation.

My grades this week?

  • Dak. A. Positives: Directed the offense on long touchdown drives the first three times Dallas had the ball, and steered the Cowboys to a 28-0 lead over a 2015 playoff team. Stats were his second best on the season, as he continues to elevate them to the point where he’s running ahead of Tony Romo’s career best 2014 stats after five games. Whatever your point of view, that’s just incredible! Negatives? The sack-fumble. It had some impact on the score, but none on the game.
  • Zeke. A+. Positives: Broke off a 60-yard TD run up the middle. Just the kind of run we all hoped for coming into the season. His 8.9 yards per carry were ridiculous. And with the offensive line, he dominated Cincinnati’s touted defensive front seven. Negatives? I didn’t see any.

What did you think of their performances?

Dak and Zeke Report: Week 1 - NY Giants

Dak and Zeke Report: Week 2 - Washington

Dak and Zeke Report: Week 3 - Chicago

Dak and Zeke Report: Week 4 - San Francisco