Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had to know the offense would be different for six weeks without running back Ezekiel Elliott, but he didn’t know to what extent.
After two low-scoring games to begin the 2017 season, the Cowboys scored 28 points or more for six consecutive weeks. The next six weeks, during Elliott’s suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, the Cowboys broke 28 points only twice, and scored less than 10 points three times.
Prescott had to admit that Elliott meant more to the offense than anyone realized.
“You saw it,” Prescott said, via the Dallas Morning News’ David Moore. “I mean, we took it for granted, tried to run the same offense as if Zeke was in the game or on the team and he wasn’t. Things were different. It wasn’t the same aggressiveness, it wasn’t the same tempo and what is the word I’m looking for, demeanor, I guess.”
Elliott’s biggest value to the Cowboys, other than being arguably the best running back in the NFL, is his big-play ability. Nothing keeps a defense on edge like a player who can score from anywhere on the field, and he is the only player on the Cowboys’ offense who has that ability.
Without that, they become significantly easier to defend, and that was obvious during their last six games.