It’s official. Ezekiel Elliott has received a second contract. The Dallas Cowboys have signed their 2016 fourth-overall pick to a six-year, $90 million contract extension that will keep him in a Cowboys uniform for a long time. This is great news for those who have been anxiously waiting for the star running back to get on the field in time for the new season.
Even though Zeke is now signed long term, that’s still a lot of cash to send his way. Is he worth it? If February, we brought up 21 reasons why the Cowboys should give Zeke a second contract. Here’s why Elliott is in a tier of his own when it comes to running back prominence.
HE’S TOUGH TO BRING DOWN
Elliott is a physical runner that brings the punishment. While there are many runners who are dangerous in space, Zeke is one of those guys who doesn’t mind putting his head down and getting the dirty yards. Don’t come at him with arm tackles because you’ll be left unsatisfied.
When it comes to yards after contact, Zeke has taken home the no. 1 spot since the moment he entered the league.
Since 2016, no running back has gained more yards after contact than Ezekiel Elliott pic.twitter.com/reEl4vmSXi— PFF (@PFF) April 15, 2019
Elliott runs with a low center of gravity which provides a lot of power for short yardage gains, but this also allows him to turn on a dime. Combined with his vision, he’s able to jump cut out of a bad situation and into running space. He’s a shifty runner that knows how to find the creases.
HE HITS THE HOLES FAST
While Elliott demonstrates the patience needed to be a good running back in this league, Zeke does have burst. Running behind this Cowboys offensive line is an art, and Elliott does a great job of dissecting the running lanes and waiting for the right time to turn on the gas. And when he does, great things happen.
HE’S A BIG PLAYMAKER ON SCREEN PLAYS
It feels like every year, Elliott will treat us to a big run for a score on a screen play. Of course, it seems that way because that’s exactly what he’s done. His rookie season, he took one 83 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2017, in what looked like an identical play, he scampered off for 72 yards against the San Francisco 49ers. And then last year, Elliott took a screen pass 38 yards for a touchdown in a game against the Detroit Lions.
The Cowboys love to run a play-fake off an end-around to the wide receiver coming one direction, only to set up a dump off pass to Zeke going the other way with a convoy of blockers in front of him. It’s a fun play to watch. And the fact that Ezekiel Elliott blew his reception totals out of the water last season coupled with a new creative offensive coordinator could mean more big plays for Zeke in the passing game.
YARDS AFTER JUMP
Zeke not only has the strength to go through defenders and the speed to blow past them, but Elliott is not afraid to use his hurdling skills to jump over defenders. While it’s not an approach he takes very often, defenders are always kept guessing what he’s going to do next. Just the threat of being jumped over can keep the defender off balance and susceptible to being run over.
HE’S A CLOSER
The Cowboys offense tries to wear defenses down in the trenches. They will pound early and often as they chip away at the defense, making them vulnerable later in the game. And when their legs are heavy, that’s when Elliott becomes even more dangerous.
Check out this video, highlighting all these traits that makes Ezekiel Elliott such a valuable running back.