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Cowboys News: Cowboys Want Ezekiel Elliott To 'Earn' Starting RB Gig? Ha Ha Ha!

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys love their bell-cow running backs; why Ezekiel Elliott can't be overhyped; should the New York Jets consider Ron Leary?

David Beckham reacts to news the Cowboys want Zeke to 'earn' the starting RB job.
David Beckham reacts to news the Cowboys want Zeke to 'earn' the starting RB job.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Cowboys want Ezekiel Elliott to 'earn' starting RB gig - Kevin Patra, NFL.com
Sure they do.

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

"He's going to compete," running back coach Gary Brown said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Zeke has to earn it. I think that's the best thing for our team and for those guys going forward."

With all due respect to Mr. Brown, it's a load of crap to think Elliott shouldn't already be considered the starter.

Elliott will not only start, but also will carry a major workload. The Cowboys brass would look ridiculously foolish using the No. 4 overall pick in the draft on a running back who can't beat out Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris.

Cowboys love their bell-cow running backs - Dave Archibald, Inside The Pylon
In part because many Cowboys fans saw Darren McFadden as nothing more than a part-time option after he took over as the starter from Joseph Randle in Week 6 last year, in part because the Cowboys themselves keep talking about it, and in part because the Cowboys feature a backfield of Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, and Darren McFadden, parts of Cowboys Nation still believe the Cowboys run a running-back-by-committee approach.

The numbers tell an entirely different story: The Cowboys are one of eight "bell-cow" teams that saw their leading rusher each week average 70% of carries and 50% of targets. In fact, the Cowboys got the second-most yards from their running backs among these eight teams.

The [numbers] show why fantasy football fans are excited about the Cowboys adding Ezekiel Elliott in the draft, as Dallas used Darren McFadden heavily in both the running and passing games.

Twitter Mailbag: One running back or two? - Todd Archer, ESPN
In response to a reader question, Archer argues the Cowboys are likely to lean heavily on one running back and this year's No. 4 overall draft pick Ezekiel Elliott will be that back.

In his first year with the Cowboys, Scott Linehan had DeMarco Murray run the ball on 392 of the 472 carries by running backs in 2014. Last season Darren McFadden had 239 of the 367 carries by running backs and he didn't become the lead runner until the sixth week of the season. The Cowboys will talk about wanting to use multiple backs but I think they will settle on a lead back and it will be Ezekiel Elliott.

It almost has to be Elliott because he was the fourth pick in the draft. If it's not, then the plan went wrong. Do I think the carries will go to the extreme, like 2014? No, but I'm not sure we'll see McFadden or Alfred Morris reach 100 carries on the season if Elliott plays the way the Cowboys hope he will. It sets up interesting decisions as far as trades or the final roster. In May, it's good to have a number of runners but come September, I think this will be Elliott's job.

Why Ezekiel Elliott can't be overhyped - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
In response to a reader questions about Elliott being overhyped, Sturm offers this take:

Honestly, I don't think you can hype a guy up too much when the franchise put everything into getting him. It seems pretty clear that they valued him higher than anyone who isn't a QB in the draft. Who knows, maybe the QBs, too.

Elliott is going to step right in with an offense that should be elite with or without him. He should have the ability to be the third different 1,000-yard runner in three years behind this line, and he should have that 1,000 in the bag by Thanksgiving. Your buddy is going to draft him in the top five in fantasy.

Let's put it this way: If he doesn't win NFC Rookie of the Year, then the Cowboys made a bad choice. So, the hype is a simple reaction when they tell you this guy is so good that they will take him with their highest pick in 25 years, even though they set everything up so that RB was a plug-and-play. In other words, he better be great.

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Dwight Freeney not option for Dallas Cowboys yet, might be too late - Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
Even at 36, DE Dwight Freeney has some sacks left in the tank. The Cowboys want to see their youngsters play, but passing on Freeney could be costly, Archer argues.

Freeney, who is 36, like starting quarterback Tony Romo, had eight sacks in 11 games last season for the Arizona Cardinals. He showed he could still provide pass rush even in limited snaps, and without the benefit of an offseason program or training camp.

The nine defensive ends listed on the Cowboys’ roster have 10.5 career sacks between them. Freeney had 10.5 sacks or more by himself in six seasons. He had more than 10.5 sacks five times.

Freeney apparently can fall out of bed and get eight sacks. That’s something the Cowboys could use.

Brice Butler Eager To Deliver On Potential After Settling In With Cowboys’ WRs - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Butler is looking to make the most of his first full offseason for the Cowboys.

"Clearly he has some ability to make some plays," Garrett said. "It’s just going to be good to get him back into the offseason program and lay the foundation with our strength and conditioning staff, but also with the system, knowing how we do things starting from ground zero."

That foundation was what Butler stressed the most in talking about his offseason. Whereas last year he was fighting to keep pace with the schedule, he can now focus on concepts and building blocks.

"I get to learn the offense, like the philosophies and what the coaches want, rather than just learning the gameplan – what we’re running against this team, what we’re running against that team," he said. "Now I get to learn why we do certain things, so it’s actually been big."

Cowboys Eyeing Chance To Host Another Super Bowl, Future NFL Draft - Nikki Chavanelle, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys did not bid on the last round of Super Bowls and that will now go to Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles in 2019-21, but they are looking at the next round.

Jones also wants to be in the running for hosting the NFL Draft in AT&T Stadium and/or the new facility under construction in Frisco, the Star, which is set to open this July. The Cowboys are expected to move their entire offices over to Frisco before the team departs for training camp on July 29 for Oxnard, Calif.

Should The New York Jets Consider Ron Leary? - Gang Green Nation
According to the SB Nation blog for the Jets, an adequate trade offer for a disgruntled Ron Leary would be a late third-day pick.

I've seen some Cowboy fans expecting a second or third round pick in exchange for Leary, but frankly, it's not very realistic. I'd expect his trade value to be anywhere between a late 4th rounder to a late day 3 pick, with my intuition pointing at the later rounds. If the Cowboys hold onto Leary, they're out $2.553M this year and will likely get very little in terms of compensatory pick value (if they even get anything after signings.) He would probably wouldn't even suit up on game days unless there were an injury to one of their guards.

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How numbers suggest we've been looking at takeaways the wrong way - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
We've told this story frequently: Teams playing from behind generate much less takeaways than teams playing with a lead. Sturm looks at last year's numbers and comes to a similar conclusion:

In 2014, the Cowboys defense was on the field for 978 snaps. In 2015, it was 997 snaps. Roughly, that is just one more snap per game -- 61.1 per game in 2014 to 62.3 in 2015. Negligible. There is almost no relation whatsoever to this ridiculous theory that the 2014 team never let the other team on the field. As you can see, they did at nearly an identical rate with Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray as did last year's team.

You certainly didn't need an eye-catching graphic to show you that the team was never ahead last season, but if we believe that most interceptions and sacks happen when a team is ahead and the other team has to force the issue with determined passes and the defense not worrying about your running game, then we can quickly see that the Cowboys defense was never in this position [to create a lot of takeaways].

History Says The Cowboys Will Have Significantly More Takeaways In 2016 – Allan Uy, Footbology
In contrast to Sturm, who argues that playing with more leads will lead to more turnovers, Uy takes a different approach, and argues that historical trends suggest the Cowboys will have more takeaways in 2016.

Uy looks at teams whose turnover differential dropped by more than 10 from one season to the next (The Cowboys dropped by 20 from 31 in 2014 to 11 in 2015) and what happens in the following year. His conclusion:

Since 2002, there have been 48 instances where a team’s takeaway differential was -10 or worse. Of those 48 instances, teams achieved a positive takeaway differential in year three 36 times (75%). Of those 36, there was a double digit improvement in year three 15 times (42%). And eight teams (22%) actually improved so much in year three, they surpassed their year one takeaway totals.

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To Be A NFL Fan in a Land Far Far Away - Justin Twell, Inside The Pylon
If you're interested in a perspective on what's it's like to a NFL fan in an (English-speaking) country far away, this is an interesting read. For a perspective that crosses the language barrier, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Countries with the most NFL fans outside the US - Imgur
There's a boatload of NFL fans in countries where English is not the first language, but so far the NFL is still stuck in its traditional anglo-saxon comfort zone. Not even the prospect of gazillions in extra revenue has been been able to move the NFL out of its xenophobic stance.

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Rob Ryan rips Saints, blames scheme for firing - Mike Triplett, ESPN
The master of the multiple defense is apparently also the master of the multiple excuses.

"I need to be in a multiple system. I was hired to be in a multiple system in New Orleans, and I did a damn good job and got fired for it," Ryan told The MMQB during his dual interview with brother Rex, whom he joined in Buffalo as an assistant head coach. "I'm not going to say I was 'forced' [to change schemes]. I advanced the plan to the best of my ability. All of a sudden, we let some good players go; we changed the system after we finished fourth in the league in defense. I don't know, it just seems strange to me."

Sean Payton: Rob Ryan saying it wasn’t his defense is "silly" | ProFootballTalk
Here's Sean Payton on some of the things that went wrong in Roby Ryan's defense. Sounds distressingly familiar.

Payton said the Saints’ defense repeatedly struggled with fundamentals like getting the right calls and the right players on the field.

"When you’re struggling as bad as we’re struggling for two years, and some of the same problems keep coming up — you know, 10 guys on the field — those are things that just are hard to live with," Payton said.