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.
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.
Here are Zeke’s numbers.
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.