The key to writing a good news posts is establishing the run. It wouldn't be Monday, if we didn't start the week of with some Zeke love.
Question: I know it's shorts and no pads, but what are your impressions so far of Ezekiel Elliott?
Jon Machota: He definitely looks the part. He looks good in individual drills. But there's really not much you can get from the team period until the pads come on. Defenders aren't allowed to have much contact so it's difficult to really know how effective some of these runs would be on Sunday. He seems to be on the same page with Romo during the pre-snap part of team drills. Tony isn't having to tell Zeke where to go or anything like that. But it's going to be tough to get a real assessment of Zeke before the pads come on and he's facing Sean Lee coming downhill at him.
While Tony Romo's health is always priority one (sorry if I spoiled it for you, but I'm pretty sure you already knew that), whether or not Zeke is the real deal will loom large in whether or not the Cowboys can retake the division title.
2. Ezekiel Elliot lives up to the hype
Elliott has been the talk of the NFL since being drafted by the Cowboys. He is a favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Running behind the team’s dominant offensive line, Elliott should be able to have a DeMarco Murray-type of impact, even as a rookie. He’s got the speed and size to get the easy yards and the power to break lose like that of an Adrian Peterson.
I keep hearing that a lot - a "DeMarco Murray-type" impact. While fans are excited about what that meant for Dallas in 2014, grouping Zeke with DeMo just feels like it's selling him short. The Cowboys didn't take a running back with the fourth overall pick to get a DeMarco Murray-type talent.
Imagine a world where a 1,800 yards rusher was deemed a "respectably talented" running back. Now imagine what a great back could do in the same environment. I've envisioned that already and it has involved a lot of celebrating in the end zone.
DeMarco Murray was a good running back. It’s easy to see the struggles he had last season in Philadelphia and throw his success in Dallas away and claim he was a product of the offensive line. That seems bitter to me. Let’s not forget that he did break the Dallas Cowboys single game record for most rushing yards as a rookie before Frederick or Martin even got there. However, it is true that his stats were greatly inflated later on due to the extra help he got on the offensive line later in his career. Murray was a good running back, but not a great one. Elliott has all the talent in the world to become a great one. The scary part of that statement? Think about what Murray did as a "good" running back in 2014. Now imagine what a "great" one is going to do with the exact same players.
People see a half-shirt wearing, limelight-living college star and it's easy to wonder if he could get himself caught up in all the excitement. That doesn't seem to be a concern with Elliott as this kid has his head right where it needs to be - the playbook. As Patrik Walker points out, he's impervious to those trick questions by reporters...and that is going to serve him well in Dallas.
Q [120 Sports]: If you’re out [here in LA] and you run across a beautiful lady, what kind of pick up line would you drop on them?
Elliott: "Hey look, I’m focused right now. I’m not worried about the ladies. I’m worried about getting my head in this playbook and getting ready to play."
Great answer, kid. Jason Garrett would be proud.
Of course, you can't establish the run without getting work done in the trenches. The Cowboys have done just that, however it hasn't come from grabbing the most athletic blockers in the draft. As our own Tom Ryle describes, just because somethings works for one thing, doesn't mean it will for another.
This is something of a cautionary case about measureables. As Fredbeard illustrates, there is a lot more to playing in the NFL than just how you stack up against others when running set drills. Frederick has a reputation as being a superb technician more than any kind of athletic freak. His low score is not a big surprise (although just how low it is was a bit unexpected). This may have had something to do with how everyone else in the league and just about all the draft gurus sorely underestimated his worth when he was drafted. The numbers alone can't gauge skill, or the nasty attitude that he brings to the middle of the line. And things like speed and agility play a bigger role for almost all positions other than center. He is not going to be running pass patterns or even be expected to pull and lead a running back. That very low RAS in the middle of the line has not kept it from being regarded as the class of the NFL.
The game against the Packers may only be the third biggest game for them, but for Dallas - the outcome will be momentous. This game could serve as a measuring stick to just how well the team has improved since the heart-breaking playoff loss.
Assuming the Cowboys are healthy, they could pose a much bigger test than the Packers faced in the divisional round two years ago. A key to Dallas’ success in 2014 was the dominant run game led by DeMarco Murray. This year, rookie Ezekiel Elliott comes to town.
Behind the league’s best offensive line, Elliott’s potential is sky high. The Packers will have their hands full trying to slow him down as they did Murray, while also covering Bryant and tight end Jason Witten.
It would be nice to cast away those demons that are clinging to that frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
For the third straight season, the Cowboys top defensive linemen draft pick will miss some crucial development time due to an injury. The Cowboys have a collection of players who have potential, but that won't help them right now. Matthew Postins feels the team needs to make a play at a veteran pass rusher to help get some immediate results until potential can become a reality.
Here's what I've learned about young talent in the decade that I've been writing about and covering the NFL — young talent is incredibly unpredictable. Sure, potential is great, especially when it is realized. But the Cowboys have too many defensive linemen that I would say are on the side of potential and not enough that are on the side of potential realized for my taste. That's a dangerous combination for a position group that must have a greater impact on the field this season for this Cowboys team to contend.
Unpredictable is right. Especially when you can't predict whether or not they will be eligible to play in football games.
While fans aren't seeing the personnel changes along the edge of the defensive line that they were hoping for, the improvements in the middle shouldn't go unnoticed. These guys don't rack up the sacks, but the sacrifice they make help their teammates look better. As Jess Haynie points out, the Cowboys have a veteran DT that could emerge as a key contributor this season.
As Dallas fans know from our time with the 3-4 defense, Thornton’s performance doesn’t show up much in stats. He only had one sack in each of the last three years but that hasn’t been his focus. As a 3-4 end, Thornton’s job has been to occupy blockers to allow guys like Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin to attack the quarterback. He has been the Marcus Spears of their scheme.
With the Cowboys new free agent and draft acquisitions at the 1-Tech spot, it's easy to forget about another savvy veteran who could be a nice piece to the interior line.
5. Terrell McClain – Pop in last years week one victory over the NYG’s, Not only does watching Eli Manning give away the game in their closing drive never get old you can keep your eye on Terrell McClain and the total disruption he brings from the 1-Tech position. He stays healthy he’s an absolute matchup nightmare and can also play effectively from the 3-Tech slot.
Neither Cowboys nor Redskins fans are happy being grouped together as they both feel cheated. When it's all said and done, half of these fans will have been right all along while the Redskins fans will be disappointed. But at least there are a couple things we can both agree on that should bring us happiness - the Eagles have problems and the Giants have Eli Manning.
PFF has the Redskins and Cowboys sharing the best record in the division at 9-7, with the New York Giants coming in third place at 8-8, and the Philadelphia Eagles sitting in the basement at 6-10. They cite the Giants terrible offensive tackle situation(a combine 120 pressures allowed in 2015) and Eli Manning's age and his lowest-rated season last year. The Eagles have as many questionable starters as good players according to PFF. They also have serious questions at cornerback, wide receiver, and QB.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that a great character kid like Jaylon Smith was flipping burgers for seven bucks an hour when he was in high school. But it did catch his football coach by surprise when he swung by to grab a bite to eat.
"No matter where or when, Jaylon always had the same attitude, the same work ethic, the same smile," Lindsay said. "Here was a kid going into his senior year of high school with a full ride to one of the best colleges in the country working for minimum wage and happy to be doing it."
The Cowboys rolled the dice on Smith when they drafted him with the 34th overall pick, but just as they always like to do, the Cowboys like to have it their way.
I can't wait for the day where people are talking about how great the Cowboys drafted in 2016. It's going to be great times.
The sports world lost a true great with the passing of legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali Friday night. He meant so much to so many, including Cowboys Hall of Fame running back, Emmitt Smith.
My son EJ wakes up every morning to this image! pic.twitter.com/KOo5BvrngO— Emmitt Smith (@EmmittSmith22) June 4, 2016
It looks like EJ is constantly surrounded by greatness.