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Dak and Zeke report: 2017 year-end totals

With Zeke’s suspension, we took a hiatus, but it’s worth capturing the totals for the season.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This article isn’t intended to give a breakdown of everything that went wrong this year for the Cowboys biggest young stars. It does, however, provide the raw numbers so that analysis can be done. Here’s a link that allows you to compare to 2016.

Dak Prescott

WEEK OPP SCORE CMP ATT CMP% YDS ANY/A TD INT RATE QBR RUSH YDS TD SACKS YDS
1 NYG W19-3 24 39 62% 268 7.08 1 0 90.55 69.6 3 24 0 1 5
2 At DEN L42-17 30 50 60% 238 3.42 2 2 68.6 35.1 3 24 0 2 10
3 At AZ W28-17 13 18 72% 183 11.26 2 0 141.7 85.7 3 16 1 1 9
4 LAR L35-30 20 36 56% 252 7 3 1 93.8 78.2 3 25 0 2 1
5 GB L35-31 25 36 69% 251 7.02 3 1 105.2 96.6 4 37 1 1 6
6 At SF W40-10 16 25 64% 234 11.76 3 0 134 79.7 4 26 1 0 0
7 At WASH W33-19 14 22 64% 143 5.75 0 0 82.2 38 3 16 0 2 5
8 KC W28-17 21 33 64% 249 8.35 2 0 106.8 95.7 3 27 1 1 5
9 At ATL L27-7 20 30 67% 176 3.31 0 0 82.1 41 6 42 1 8 50
10 PHI L37-9 18 31 58% 145 0 0 3 30.4 11.5 2 10 0 4 32
11 LAC L28-6 20 27 74% 179 2.68 0 2 60.6 14.2 0 0 0 2 11
12 WAS W38-14 11 22 50% 102 5.78 2 0 93.4 56.8 5 28 0 1 9
13 At NYG W30-10 20 30 67% 332 13 3 0 137.1 87.7 6 13 0 0 0
14 At OAK W20-17 18 27 67% 212 3.93 0 2 59.5 63.6 6 32 1 2 8
15 SEA L21-12 21 34 62% 181 1.68 0 2 51.2 38.5 4 21 0 4 27
16 At PHI W6-0 17 30 57% 179 6.19 1 0 85.3 60.4 2 16 0 1 7
Total 5W-3L 308 490 63% 3324 5.74 22 13 86.6 66.1 57 357 6 32 185

There is a significant difference between Dak’s first-half and second-half stats. Once Tyron Smith went down and Dak suffered eight sacks in the Atlanta game, the offense never really recovered. Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee were also out of that game, so it was more than just Smith’s absence that affected the Cowboys.

Dak exceeded his ANY/A average of 7.9 yards from 2016 only once in those final eight games, and in one of them had a negative number. He was picked off 13 times (versus four in 2016), with 9 of them coming in the last eight games.

I think several things hurt Dak’s game. Tyron Smith’s missed games were massive. It took time for the Cowboys to fully integrate Jonathan Cooper at guard, and for La’el Collins to settle in at right tackle.

Teams attempted to take away the waggle play, where Dak fakes a handoff to Zeke and then rolls out the other way to hit a tight end or receiver in the flat.

A much bigger loss was Cole Beasley going from a third-down conversion machine into a low-efficiency target. Jason Witten also continued to decline. Dez Bryant is also not an efficient receiver.

The ship can likely be righted, but the Cowboys may need to be creative to do it. And Dak is going to have to improve his accuracy, anticipation, and his processing speed.

Ezekiel Elliott

Here are Zeke’s numbers.

WEEK OPP SCORE RUSH YDS Y/A REC YDS Y/C TD FUM
1 NYG W19-3 24 105 4.4 5 36 7.2 0 0
2 At DEN L42-17 9 8 0.9 4 14 3.5 0 0
3 At AZ W28-17 22 80 3.6 3 14 4.7 1 0
4 LAR L35-30 21 85 4 4 54 13.5 2 0
5 GB L35-31 29 116 4 1 16 16 0 0
6 At SF W40-10 26 147 5.7 1 72 72 3 0
7 At WASH W33-19 33 150 4.5 1 4 4 2 1
8 KC W28-17 27 93 3.4 0 0 0 1 0
15 SEA L21-12 24 97 4 4 21 5.3 0 0
16 At PHI W6-0 27 103 3.8 3 38 12.7 0 0
Total 6W-4L 242 984 4.1 26 269 10.3 9 1

Zeke fell just short of 1,000 yards. His yards per carry declined. He hit fewer home run plays, and scored fewer touchdowns.

None of this seems to be a factor of his ability, but rather declines in his supporting cast. One should expect Zeke to be back with a vengeance in 2018.