The Dallas Cowboys might not have their star runner, Ezekiel Elliott, to open the season. Here’s a look at their first two games of the year without him.
Heading into the season, the Dallas Cowboys should definitely have Superbowl on the brain. They have their offensive line back in tack. The defense is borderline elite, if not full-blown, and they have legit weapons at all of the key offensive positions.
While the above is definitely the case in the big picture or long run, the short term outlook is one without Ezekiel Elliott. These thoughts come on the heels of comments that team owner Jerry Jones made to 105.3 The Fan. Essentially Jones said that what’s most important is to have the freshest version of Zeke when the playoffs begin.
With these thoughts in mind though, it begs of a particular question. When exactly will Zeke be back? While the answer to that question still goes unknown, it is safe to say that at the very minimum and no matter when Elliott decides to end his holdout with the team, that he won’t be ready for a full load of work until at least week three of the season.
While it doesn’t appear that Elliott will be back in time enough to play in Week One at all, he could be back in time enough to take on a partial load in week two, which of course points to the statement from earlier where he wouldn’t be back fully integrated until at earliest the third week. It is with this in mind that fans should begin to think about what the first two weeks of the season might look like for the Cowboys sans a fully active Elliott.
Although Zeke is a workhorse and among if not the very best back in the league, some combination of Tony Pollard (will for sure be on the regular-season roster), Alfred Morris (should be on the roster regardless), Jordan Chunn ( seemingly totally dependent on Elliott’s return), and fullback Jamize Olawale should be enough to get the job done in Weeks One and Two.
The first two games of the season are against the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, respectively. While they are both divisional opponents and rivals, meaning a certain familiarity and a certain intensity is to be expected, neither should be too tough for the Cowboys to handle without Zeke.
While you know you will get a heavy dose of Saquon Barkley against the G-Men, you really don’t know what to expect from their passing game. This isn’t a knock on Eli Manning, who still probably has something to give if there is an adequate team around him, but that’s just it. The Giants somehow found it logical to trade away Odell Beckham Jr., and are now left with a bunch of unknowns when it comes to who will catch the passes.
The defense also took a hit of their own this past offseason. They also traded Olivier Vernon to Cleveland in what ended up being a combined deal, while also letting veteran safety Landon Collins walk over to a divisional foe. While they should be competitive considering they always are against the Cowboys, Dallas should still win this game going away when considering their lack of talent on both sides of the ball.
When looking at the team that Collins went to in the Redskins, that is their strength. The defense of the Washington Redskins has the ability to be an elite one.
Just to name a few, they should have a menacing defensive front with the likes of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan among others. They should also have a really good back end with Josh Gordon, Quinton Dunbar, and the aforementioned Collins. The defense can only do but so much though as the majority of their problems lie on the other side.
While Case Keenum isn’t half as bad as many try to make him out to be, he can’t do it alone. Jordan Reed was in concussion protocol again for the umpteenth time recently, while The Athletic has reported that they may be in the business of potentially trading who was thought to be their top wideout in Josh Doctson. The tailback situation is a pretty good one with the return of Derrius Guice, the ageless Adrian Peterson, the electric Chris Thompson, and the all-around Samaje Perine.
The Redskins have the opportunity to be a pretty decent team as well if they can figure things out offensively, but not as good as the Dallas Cowboys should be. While you need to take every game seriously, because they are all grown men and professionals, the Cowboys should be just fine without Ezekiel Elliott for at least the first two weeks. Let’s hope they work things out where he’s able to be at least partially going by Week Three, but again, they should be fine for a bit up until that point.