A quick synopsis of Ezekiel Elliott’s 2020-21 campaign elicits a predominantly negative rumination surrounding his overall performance. To think of his on-field production conjures up countless stomach-turning recollections of #21 coughing up his precious luggage.
Fumbles came at a steep premium for the self-tabbed food-monger this season. Cowboys fans have several troubling mental images of Zeke regurgitating the meals he’s received from QB handoffs, and he’s relinquished several fumbles to opposing defenses throughout the roller-coaster season.
In fact, his five (!) lost fumbles this year equals his career total from the past four seasons combined.
Point blank: his ball-security has been abysmal. And it’s led to numerous questions stemming from the team’s fanbase on his substantiality with the team looking forward.
He’s not close to the pad-crunching truck-stick that took the league by storm in 2016, and that’s attributable to several worthy causes, starting with a slew of injuries, and ending with good ol’ Father Time. Said injury bug hasn’t been kind to him this year either, and his hobbled disposition has freed avenues for other young guns to show their on-field expertise.
His backup, Tony Pollard, has been one of 2020’s more heralded revelations, as he’s put up a versatile display that’s hinted he’s capable of holding starter’s duties in the NFL. Pollard’s 69-yard, two-touchdown game (with 60+ passing yards) against San Francisco’s provided evidence.
But Zeke still holds a singular placeholder on RB1 duties in D-Town, and despite his countless miscarriages, his complete body of work hasn’t been flat-out terrible. Sunday was #21’s reminder to the world that he’s still deserving of the resplendent reputation that precedes his name.
His 19-carry, 105-yard dazzler gave reminiscent inklings of his brilliance from yesteryear, vaulting him to a solid 937-yard total on 230 touches for 2020.
At 4.1 yards per opportunity, Elliott’s niche remains resolute as a reliable yard-chewer (his career total has never dipped below four), and the excellence he’s carved out for himself throughout his league tenure is nothing short of spectacular.
He has a chance to usurp the coveted 1,000 yard-mark vs. the Giants Sunday which would mark the fourth time he’s done so as a professional.
Doing so would elevate him to elite Dallas Cowboys company. He’d join Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett as the only running backs in franchise history to amass 1k in four of their first five campaigns.
Elliott commented on his special opportunity earlier this week:
“To get 1,000 yards, it would mean a lot. I’m not really worried about it. I want to win this football game and get a shot in the playoffs. But I mean, getting 1,000 yards in this league, it’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy. And it is an accomplishment, but it’s not really something I’m focused on.”
“A win is a win no matter how you get there. A win is a win, So if we win the division at 7-9, it’s the same as winning it at 14-2. You’re going to the playoffs with a 0-0 record. Winning the division, it doesn’t matter what your record is. If you win it, you win it.
Zeke is right. It’s not easy for any man to gain that many yards, no matter how gaudy their résumé may be. He won't be able to escape the blotched stains some of his more impotent instances placed on his comprehensive year. But 1,000 yards is nothing to gloss over.
While a team win is unequivocally first on his list of priorities (and it should be), Zeke deserves his individual flowers should he accomplish that impressive feat.