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Will Dallas Give Ezekiel Elliott Enough Carries To Break Eric Dickerson’s Rookie Record?

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With 1,551 yards through 14 games, needing only 258 to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record, the only thing holding back Zeke passing the record may be the Dallas coaches.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Should they, or shouldn’t they?

Ezekiel Elliott has 1,551 yards rushing this season in 14 games, or 110 yards per game. He needs 258 yards to pass Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards, or 129 yards per game.

Zeke has 310 carries, or just over 22 carries per game. He’s had high games of 30 and 28 carries, and low games of 15 and 18 carries. He’s averaging five yards per carry overall, but had a low of 2.55 yards per carry (first game of his career) and a high of 8.9 yards per carry.

Here are those stats on a game-by-game basis.

Week RB Carries Yards Y/A
1 Elliott 20 51 2.55
2 Elliott 21 83 3.95
3 Elliott 30 140 4.67
4 Elliott 23 138 6
5 Elliott 15 134 8.9
6 Elliott 28 157 5.6
7 Elliott 22 96 4.4
8 Elliott 18 92 5.1
9 Elliott 21 114 5.4
10 Elliott 25 97 3.9
11 Elliott 20 97 4.9
12 Elliott 20 86 4.3
13 Elliott 24 107 4.5
14 Elliott 23 159 6.9
Total 310 1551 5

At five yards per carry, the Cowboys only need to give Zeke the ball 52 times over the last two games for him to break the record (by two yards), or 26 carries per game. That would be four extra carries in each game above his average. But it would still be below his two highest-carry games.

If Zeke were to average six yards per carry, he would need only 43 carries over two games, or just under the 22 carries per game he’s averaged on the season.

If Zeke fell to four yards per carry, it would take 65 carries, or 32.5 per game to break the record. That seems like far too many.

Another factor is that Dallas has sewn up the #1 seed in the NFC. The Detroit game, and the Philadelphia game next week, will be meaningless to the standings. Will the Cowboys rest Zeke for the playoffs at some point, or give him minimal carries to keep him sharp and give the rest to Darren McFadden so he’s up to speed?

It’s an interesting dilemma.

Should the Cowboys’ coaches plan to give Zeke enough carries so he can set the new record if he keeps up his current pace of five yards per carry? Or keep him on his current 22-carries-a-game pace and see if he can break the record on his own by hitting some long runs? Or should they even consider it at all, and instead do whatever they feel is best for winning in the playoffs?

Whatever they decide, whether Zeke breaks Dickerson’s record is more likely to be a coaches decision than a factor of Zeke’s running ability. Given his remarkable consistency, it would be unlikely to take Zeke more than 60 carries — or 30 per game — to break the record, and he might be able to do it in far fewer chances.