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Cowboys News: The Dallas offense is missing the “home run” ball from Ezekiel Elliott

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys RB Zeke Elliott wants the big play back in his game - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

If Ezekiel Elliott can start hitting “home run” type runs it could provide a huge boost to the Dallas offense.

For a Cowboys team that is struggling to score points in the first half of games and suddenly lacking in big plays from the passing game due to zone coverage and injuries, it’s more like where has “the bang” gone from Elliott. The two-time NFL rushing champion took the league by storm as a rookie in 2016 with ability to be physical as well as hit the home run as he did in college at Ohio State.

He had seven runs and five receptions of 25 yards or longer as a rookie. Those numbers dwindled to 4 and 3 in 2017, 3 and 3 in 2018 and 1 and 1 through six games in 2019. He had four runs of 30 yards or more as a rookie but just three over the last three years combined and none this year.

“Those are things you always want to have,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s been a pretty consistent runner for us. He makes a lot of dirty yards. He makes a lot of explosive runs, we call 12 yards or more. And he’s made some big runs for us throughout his career.

“Typically, though, everybody has something to do with that. That’s always a point of emphasis to turn that 12-yard run in that 40-yard run. So we’ll keep emphasizing that. And that’s an important part of running the football, being able to make some of those big plays.”

Eatman: These 5 Players Need To Be Playing More - Nick Eatman, dallascowboys.com

What five players need to be on the field more to help the Cowboys turn things around?

Xavier Su’a-Filo – I know I’ve said this for about a year now, but I really like what Su’a-Filo brings to the table and I think the Cowboys would be a better offensive line if he was starting. I know that the Cowboys have a lot invested in Connor Williams as a second-round pick, but please don’t forget that Su’a-Filo was also a high second-round pick of the Texans back in 2014. He’s started 49 games, including eight with the Cowboys last year. The only game Dallas lost when he started was at Indianapolis, and he left that game early with an eye injury. This team needs a stronger player in the middle of the line and Su’a-Filo would provide that inside push. I think it’s a move that needs to be made.

Darian Thompson – Again, just like Su’a-Filo, Thompson is a relatively high draft pick for another team that needed a change of scenery. In the game he played in Xavier Woods’ absence, Thompson was around the ball and seemed to make an impact. So far this year, Woods hasn’t been as active as we thought coming out of training camp, where he was one of the best players. I know fans want to see Donovan Wilson because of his interceptions in the preseason. I can’t say I hate that idea either, but if we’re making a change, I think I’d start with Thompson.

Cowboys Not Focused On Bulletin Board Material - Rob Phillips, dallascowboys.com

Despite Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s comments earlier this week, the Cowboys more focused with their play on the field.

The Cowboys are in the same position. Once 3-0, they’re now in the middle of their first three-game losing streak since 2017. They’re also banged up. Six starters/key rotation players did not practice Wednesday due to injury: cornerback Anthony Brown, wide receiver Randall Cobb, right tackle La'el Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and left tackle Tyron Smith.

It’s easy to see why Pederson’s quote hasn’t been a significant topic among the Cowboys’ roster. “It’s all about what you do on Sunday,” guard Zack Martin said. “We try to stay away from that in our locker room because at the end of the day it’s what you do on Sunday night.”

Offensively, the Cowboys must find ways to sustain and finish drives. They haven’t scored a touchdown until the second half in their last three games. They’ve converted only 4 of their last 9 trips to the red zone. “That’s the big thing is to start fast,” Martin said. “We can play as well as we want to in the second half, but if you’re down it’s tough to come back.”

Cowboys Can Easily Pin 3-Game Losing Streak on Slow Starts - Schuyler Dixon, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Slow starts have been an issue all season long, but they have particularly hurt Dallas during their three-game losing streak.

Prescott pinpointed the offense as the key to the issue for not giving the defense a chance to play with a lead. But the defense shares plenty of responsibility.

The best case in point came in the shocking loss to the Jets, when coach Jason Garrett passed on a field goal down 7-3 late in the first half and went for it on fourth-and-2 from the New York 7-yard line. After Prescott was dropped for a loss on a sweep, Chidobe Awuzie was too aggressive and safety Jeff Heath took a poor angle on San Darnold's 92-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. Just like that, the Jets were up 14-3 on their way to an 18-point first-half lead.

"Ultimately, we haven't executed," Garrett said. "Everything we do goes into execution, so everyone has a responsibility for that, every coach, every player who is involved in each of the units of our football team. So we haven't executed well enough early on in games."

Heath says the danger for a defensive player is getting anxious about making a game-changing play when things don't go well early. The seventh-year player thinks the loss to Green Bay was the best example. The Cowboys were down 14-0 quickly, and 31-3 before rallying. "We were down 14-0 early and then I think errors just started to pile up because we felt like we needed to make these difference-making plays to turn the whole game around," Heath said.

If Jason Garrett would be in high demand, why haven’t the Cowboys extended him? – Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

If Jason Garrett was on the open market, would he be in high demand?

In January, Jones talked up the coach that he had under contract for one more season. “If Jason Garrett had been out on the market two weeks ago, he would’ve had five offers for head coaching,” Jones said. “I know that.” On Tuesday, Jones did it again.

“He’s had a lot of years that he’s been a part of the Cowboys and he evolved into what, I think, is a top coach,” Jones said. “He would be a very sought after coach if he were out here in the open market.”

But would he be? Garrett became a free agent in early 2015, after the #DezCaughtIt game in the divisional round of the playoffs. Seven jobs were open that year. The Falcons waited until after the Super Bowl to hire then-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Other hires were John Fox in Chicago, Rex Ryan in Buffalo, Todd Bowles with the Jets, Gary Kubiak in Denver, Jack Del Rio in Oakland, and Jim Tomsula in San Francisco.

Garrett, who everyone knew was entering the last year of his contract, never had his name come up in connection with any of those vacancies. Five years later, what has changed? Garrett’s team went 4-12 in 2015, 13-3 in 2016, 9-7 in 2017, and 10-6 in 2018. The Cowboys made it to the playoffs twice, losing both times in the divisional round. While not horrible, it’s not Lombardieqsue.

Jourdan Lewis, the Change the Dallas Cowboys Defense Needs - Brian Martin, Inside The Star

After getting playing time and producing last Sunday, does Jourdan Lewis need to be on the field more?

Kris Richard has a prototype he prefers in his cornerbacks and No. 27 doesn't quite fit the bill. Richard likes his CBs at least 6 foot tall with an arm length of approximately 32 inches. At 5'10", Jourdan Lewis falls a few inches under the height threshold Richard likes, but narrowly misses in the arm length with 31 5/8 inch arms.

It may be pretty obvious, but I personally don't agree with Richard's insistence on playing the CBs that fit his prototype. I think it's flawed, especially as it pertains to Jourdan Lewis. On just about any other team around the league Lewis would be starting, but with the Cowboys he currently sits fourth on the depth chart.

Due to the current injuries at the CB position though, Richard doesn't really have a choice but to play Jourdan Lewis more this week. He may even have to be relied upon as a starter and I believe that could be the change the Cowboys defense needs. Don't get me wrong, I really like Byron Jones and Anthony Brown. But, neither CB is known for creating turnovers. No. 27 on the other hand has a knack for being in the right place at the right time to come away with an interception. In fact, only Anthony Brown (4) has more than interceptions since he joined the team and that's with far more playing time.

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