FRISCO - A week ago, Ezekiel Elliott was in his best shape ever, preparing for what the Dallas Cowboys believed might be his best season ever.
But he now enters NFL Week 2 coming off one of the three poorest statistical performances of his career.
“I'm definitely hungry," Elliott said as the 0-1 Cowboys prep for a Sunday visit at the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Feed Zeke”? That didn’t happen in last week’s 31-29 loss at Tampa Bay as Elliott got just 11 carries for 33 yards.
Is football all about stats? Elliott is here to remind us of a truth.
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"If you know football, if you're in this building, you can tell someone had a solid game without having the best statistics," Zeke said. "If you don't understand that, you should probably study football a little more.”
Valid. But … 11 carries, two pass receptions and a bunch of fine pass-protection blocking isn’t going to be a long-term winning formula, or the best way to always utilize a well-paid two-time rushing champion.
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Elliott won’t argue with that. But the game script in Tampa, in the judgment of head coach Mike McCarthy and coordinator Kellen Moore, dictated Elliott’s role.
So he played it.
"My job is to do my job to the best of its ability," Elliott said. "I take a lot of pride to being well-rounded. Blitz pickup is big for a running back. You have to have keep that quarterback safe and untouched."
Elliott did in fact help protect Dak Prescott, who was sacked just once in the game. Meanwhile, Dak also played a role in Elliott’s final numbers, as the coaches actually sent in 28 running plays, with Prescott taking the option of checking out of about half of those due to the Bucs’ defensive alignment.
Now it’s onto the Chargers, 1-0 after a win over Washington in which Antonio Gibson rushed for 90 yards on 20 carries. Surely Zeke would like that sort of opportunity on Sunday.
"Every play I'm given a job,” said Elliott.
And once in a while, Ezekiel Elliott is also going to be given the ball.