The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a game without Ezekiel Elliott, and they haven’t looked good doing it. In fact, the Cowboys haven’t even reached double-digits without their star tailback, as the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers have held them to 7, 9, and 6 points, respectively.
It’s been ugly.
“It’s pretty obvious the offense hasn’t done much since Zeke has started to serve his suspension,” former Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson said on Reiter Than You. “But (if) you take one person out of the offense, it should not cripple the offense. Someone should be able to step up in that position, and the running back position is probably the best position as far as depth is concerned on the roster. The drop-off from the starter is not that great to the backup. Alfred Morris certainly is not Zeke Elliott, but he’s a proven runner in the NFL. If we give him enough carries, I think he can still be effective. I think the rest of the guys in the offense, their play has not been up to par. It’s forced Dak (Prescott) to do some things that he’s not used to doing.”
Prescott is averaging just 166.7 passing yards to go with one (rushing) touchdown and five interceptions in three games without Zeke.
If Prescott cannot rally the Cowboys (5-6) to a few wins down the stretch, is it fair to question whether he is a legitimate franchise quarterback?
“I think that assessment would be unfair,” Pearson said. “It’s too early to judge whether he is the franchise quarterback or he isn’t. He certainly proved last season he could be that franchise quarterback, and that’s what we’re hoping for going forward. His play has regressed this season. But It’s all in accordance with the team. The team has regressed.”
That goes beyond Elliott’s absence.
“I don’t think the Cowboys’ coaches have done a good job of putting Dak – or even the offense – in a position to be successful,” Pearson said. “The things that worked in the past aren’t necessarily going to work now. As defensive coordinators study you, as players study see you, they see formations, they see things and they recognize things and it makes it a little more difficult for the quarterback to read those things, first of all, and for the offense to execute plays when the defense knows what you’re going to do.
“Our offense is a little stagnant because of the line, the receivers, the running back position and of course the quarterback play,” Pearson continued, “but it’s also stagnant because we’re not giving these players a good chance – or the best chance – to be successful on each and every play. The offensive coordinator, the offensive coaches, they need to come up with some plays and things a little different from what they’ve been doing so that the defense can be off-balanced. Then I think you’ll see better play not only out of the rest of the offense, but certainly out of that quarterback position as well.”