Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Meets Coach McCarthy: What 'Didn't Need To Be Said'
FRISCO - Mike McCarthy is holed up here in Frisco, at The Star, doing what his new Dallas Cowboys job demands. Ezekiel Elliott is in Orlando, at the Pro Bowl, the star running back doing the same. But recently, the two pivotal Cowboys figures met, if only briefly.
And not much needed to be said.
“I got an opportunity to talk to him one time, and it was a nice visit a couple weeks ago,'' Elliott told ESPN’s Dianna Russini after Wednesday’s Pro Bowl practice. "Wasn't very long, but kinda getting to know each other a bit, talking a little ball, what we thought we needed to do going into next year.”
McCarthy has made his thoughts on the 2020 Cowboys clear. He believes an offense needs to be built around the quarterback but that a great running game is a "QB's best friend.''
Elliott, who last year re-upped with a new $90-million deal, is the embodiment of a "great running game,'' a two-time NFL rushing champion who also happens to be literal "best friends'' with QB Dak Prescott.
Said McCarthy: “First off, with Zeke, he’s going to get the football. Let’s make no mistake about that.''
That's a fine answer to what smart football watchers know is an easy question. The Cowboys, following that painful holdout, last September signed Elliott to the richest running back contract in NFL history. He may be used differently under McCarthy and to prolong his career he may even be used less (which was the entire point of last year's draft selection of Tony Pollard.)
But when Zeke plays an entire season (as he's done three times in four years (derailed just one year by a suspension), he's a 1,300-yards rusher who averaged 98 yards per game. He also caught 54 passes for 420 receiving yards and two touchdowns, exhibiting a skill set of the sort that McCarthy has featured way back to 2001 with Ricky Williams in New Orleans.
Some Cowboys critics are misunderstanding the coach's "Feed Zeke'' commitment, wrongly guessing that that concept takes away from an emphasis on the development of Prescott. But McCarthy acknowledges that Dak - coming off his best statistical year as a passer (with 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns to 11 interceptions) is some game-winning tinkering away from taking another step forward.
He did that in Green Bay with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. He vows to do it here.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with Dak,” McCarthy said. “Our offensive system will be built around making the quarterback successful. That’s the way I’ve learned it. That’s the way I believe you play offense. We have a great one here to work with.”
But wait ... Is that a conflict of sorts? Claiming to be building the offense around Dak while also claiming he'll "Feed Zeke''? We can promise you McCarthy issued the same commitment (complete with details) when he proposed to the Jones family his thoughts on the two backfield stars.
"The best way to make (a quarterback) successful is a great run game,'' McCarthy said. "We clearly understand what we have here.”
And it sounds like the coach and the running back are clear, too. For his part, Zeke suggested that his comments were brief and to the point.
“Just run the football,” Elliott said. “We know how we're built. I don't think much needs to be said.”