Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t as involved as usual in the Cowboys’ Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers. Elliott had 11 races – the second lowest total of his career – in the 31-29 loss to Dallas. It was a departure from the 16.3 races per game he averaged in Mike McCarthy’s first season with the Cowboys.
Is there any reason to be concerned about Elliott’s lack of touches in Game 1 of the season? Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore doesn’t think so. He explained that the Cowboys simply passed the ball more because the Bucs have one of the best running defenses in the NFL.
“It was a one-off game,” Moore told reporters Monday, according to USA Today Sports. “If we have to throw it 60 times, if we have to throw it 60 times, I really don’t care. It was the NFL’s No.1 defense. We could bang our heads against the wall if we want.
“But at the end of the day I thought they had done a good job stopping the race.”
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The Buccaneers have been the NFL’s best defense in consecutive years, so it made sense to limit Elliott’s scopes. In fact, the team as a whole has only run 18 games per race in total out of its 77 games. It was good for a 23.3 points percentage, the second-lowest NFL total in Week 1 behind only their opponent, the Buccaneers.
It was part of the Cowboys plan, but Moore made it clear that the Cowboys called more racing games. Dak Prescott was just audible on 12 of them, which Moore said was the right move given the game.
“These opportunities presented themselves. I love that Dak took them, ”Moore said. “As the season goes, it’s a long season. Different confrontations, different defensive schemes.
“We’re going to need Zeke to hammer him.”
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Elliott will be able to do this in the future. The Chargers’ run defense ranks 21st in the NFL after allowing Washington for 126 rushing yards in Week 1, and they will face the Cowboys in Week 2. Dallas will also get the back of the game. right-back Zack Martin, which should give his blocking a boost.
And as Moore explained, Elliott understands that his role will increase in the future. The veteran will be ready to handle a heavier workload when the time comes.
“Zeke is a guy with a big image. He sees it, ”Moore said. “He did a phenomenal job protecting the passes for us. There were a lot of guys in the box, and we’re going to have other games where people are going to play two shells and give us the opportunity to lead the football.
“Zeke is going to be ready to rock and roll over there.”
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