Prior to the 2020 NFL season, Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys was a consistent player on the list of contenders for the league’s top running back title. His statistics, his achievements, he himself spoke a very clear language. But then an absolute horror season followed for the superstar last year. Now the question is, was this all just a blip or do the fans in “Big D” actually have a few things to worry about?
It wasn’t the jewel-studded gold chain in the shape of a 21 that recently had Dallas Cowboys fans in raptures. It wasn’t the white bandana with the logo of a well-known sporting goods manufacturer, or the body art that Ezekiel Elliott calls his own. No, the photo of her star running back on his social media channel The Cowboys fans liked him so much because he was able to tick a very specific condition for strong performances. Elliott appeared to be in excellent physical condition, including a six-pack and no-where-to-detect love handles.
Some might take that for granted for the best professional athletes in the world. But last but not least, Ezekiel Elliott himself knows that it is not always easy for everyone to keep the body’s own machine in a permanently oiled condition. “Zeke” was said to be a little out of step last year due to the various Covid 19 restrictions during his offseason workout came and probably felt an effect that many people could observe in the home office and when greeting the mirror every morning. The only small difference is that the work performance of most people is not affected by it, but an NFL pro is quickly tripped up by a few milliseconds of lack of liveliness or a few kilos too much.
Dak Prescott sees Ezekiel Elliott in ‘the best shape of his life’
Not only pictures on Instagram reveal that these times are now over for Ezekiel Elliott. “He’s in the best shape of his life,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott commented on his backfield colleague’s condition. Tony Pollard, Zeke’s backup at the running back position, struck a similar note: “You can tell he’s taken a lot of steps in the right direction. He’s changed his diet and looks damn fit.” Words like these make it clear that the mostly speculative assumptions about Elliott’s 2020 fitness level were not entirely unfounded. On the contrary, after all, Zeke himself admits that he wants to go into the upcoming NFL season transformed.
Offseason Zeke is JACKED 😤
— SportsDay Cowboys (@dmn_cowboys) July 14, 2021
“I feel good and ready,” said the two-time NFL rushing leader, who reportedly weighs as much as he did during his freshman year at Ohio State University. “I’m lighter but still strong. I can still get behind my pads and throw a few hits.” Cowboys fans will be happy about that, as last year their team was the one that had to take one hit after the other and ended up sneaking into the offseason with a rather battered visage. Elliott had with his weakest career year his fair share, losing five fumbles and only 4 yards per carry. He only rushed 1.69 yards from contact, the fastest in his five-year NFL career. Towards the end of the season, he steadily lost game shares and increasingly left the backfield to Pollard.
Ezekiel Elliott hopes for healthy Dallas Cowboys
How much of a role his lack of fitness played in this development is difficult to say. There’s no question that it’s unacceptable given his gigantic contract, Elliott earns $90 million over six years. But there were other, perhaps far more important, factors at play in Elliott’s horror season. Facts such as Elliott’s wrist injury, Dak Prescott’s serious injury, the enormous injury problems on the offensive line (Pollard’s space gain per rush fell by a whole yard compared to the previous year) and an associated offensive identity crisis for the Cowboys had an enormous impact on the Cowboys’ running game . And it is probably precisely the parameters that should give Dallas courage again in the coming season in relation to Ezekiel Elliott.
Dak Prescott is back in the NFL after a long injury layoff and will keep defenses from packing the box against Elliott. If they do, the ex-OSU star should find running behind a line with tackles Tyron Smith and La’El Collins much easier. Both had played just two games together in 2020. Even if a few health concerns remain (including starting center Tyler Biadasz), it’s far from unrealistic for Dallas’ frontline to return one of the better units in the NFL. And to give Ezekiel Elliott more than a little help.
Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t want to disappoint the team or the fans
Not only is Elliott vowing improvements in his physical condition, he also promises to focus more on his ball security. “I was never a fumbler,” says the 26-year-old. “When you carry the ball, you carry the hopes of the team, the franchise and the fans in your hands at the same time. If you then lose the ball, you disappoint them all. So it’s clearly at the top of my list of priorities for the upcoming one Season.” The statement that he was never a fumbler may not quite stand up against the background of two more NFL seasons with five fumbles, but nonetheless, as with the topic of weight, there is a self-reflection on Elliott’s part. That’s not trivial given some critics, who have described him as selfish, grossly overpaid, and unfocused at times.
— Overtime (@overtime) July 2, 2021
His coaches also want to help Elliott with the “bounce back year”. Head man Mike McCarthy, for example, wants experiment with a two-back scheme and keep an eye on Zeke’s touches to keep him fresh at key stages. “We have Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle has looked good so far,” said the former Super Bowl champion with the Green Bay Packers. “We have a couple of young players who are capable of a lot so it’s not always necessary to let Zeke run the ball 25-30 times. In December and January you want him to be in top form and have the opportunity to get a fresh one Giving Zeke the ball so many times.” Although McCarthy should first worry about playing important games in December and January and accordingly put all his cards on the table, the core of the statement is of course true. A fit, fresh Ezekiel Elliott helps the Cowboys a lot more than one whose tank is running on reserve.
Accordingly, the superstar’s reports from this year’s offseason preparation are important. His coach Josh Hicks confirmed that he has never seen Elliott work as hard as he did this summer. Some insiders also said that Zeke’s pride was hurt a little last year, after all he has completely different expectations not only with his team but also personally. “If he’s fit, healthy and lively, then he’s without a doubt the best running back in the entire NFL,” says quarterback Dak Prescott, which Ezekiel Elliott is certainly convinced of himself. And what he definitely wants to prove on the field again in the coming season…