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Ezekiel Elliott is about to quietly finish in the top five in rushing

A down year for Zeke is an amazing year for others.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Whenever it begins, the next Dallas Cowboys offseason will very different than the last one. Sure, there are still contract issues for the team to figure out, but they won’t highlight the divide between dramatically different football philosophies like the issue of paying Ezekiel Elliott did.

The run game is the center of football. Running backs don’t matter. Wherever you fall on that argument, the reality is that the Cowboys already paid Ezekiel Elliott and for the first time in his four-year career he will finish a season having played every game without leading the league in rushing. That’s hardly worth being upset about.

In fact, entering the regular season’s final week, it looks as if Elliott will finish in the top five in rushing. That feels so pedestrian for him, but that says so much about what he’s managed to do to this point in his career.

NFL rushing leaders entering Week 17

  1. Nick Chubb, 1,453
  2. Christian McCaffrey, 1,361
  3. Derrick Henry, 1,329
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, 1,235
  5. Chris Carson, 1,230
  6. Lamar Jackson, 1,206
  7. Leonard Fournette, 1,152
  8. Josh Jacobs, 1,150
  9. Dalvin Cook, 1,135
  10. Carlos Hyde, 1,057

Give the state of injured players throughout the league entering Week 17, it’s more probable than not that Zeke will finish the season in the top five in rushing. Barring a herculean performance against Washington he’ll likely finish with the third-most yards that he’s ever had in a full 16-game performance, but flirting with 1,300 yards is hardly anything to be disappointed by.

An important detail about this season is that the Cowboys have gotten more production out of the passing game than they have in years past as well. Overall the team’s disposition has been a little different in general which has lent itself to different motives and opportunities throughout games. Zeke not leading the league in rushing might be a byproduct of that.

Nobody is saying that the Cowboys paid Zeke to finish in the top five in rushing or that him doing so is something that makes this season worth it. All we’re doing here is noting that he’s had himself a pretty impressive season all things considered.

If only it had helped more.

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