Stuart looks at the teams with the largest variation in rushing performance in 2016 – as measured by a percentage deviation from the team’s average output. Here’s his take on the Cowboys.
And, of course, it would be silly to not spend a sentence or two on the 2016 Cowboys. Powered by rookie Ezekiel Elliott (and with an assist from fellow rookie Dak Prescott) Dallas had the 2nd most consistent running game in the NFL *and* ranked 2nd in rushing yards.
The team was arguably even more consistent than these numbers indicate: Dallas hit the century mark in 15 games this year, only failing to rush for 100 yards in a meaningless week 17 game when Elliott was rested.
Remove that game, and the Cowboys standard deviation drops to 35.8, and the Cowboys average rises to 155.1. At that point, the ratio would be just 23.1%, giving Dallas the most consistent attack in the league.
2017 rushing title predictions: Will Ezekiel Elliott keep the RB throne? – NFL.com
Nine NFL.com writers weigh in on who will lead the league in rushing. Surprisingly, only two pick Elliott to repeat, Jeff Chadiha and LaDainian Tomlinson
Chadiha: Encore! Encore! Ezekiel Elliott’s about to run even wilder in 2017.
Call me predictable, but I’m sticking with Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas Cowboys running back ran away with the rushing title in 2016 and he’s poised to be even more prolific during his second year in the NFL. The Cowboys already have talked about wanting to use him more, even though he led the league with 322 carries last season (on his way to 1,631 yards). They also seem prepared to back up that plan, especially since Elliott wants the ball as many times as they’ll give it to him. Dallas will still find a way to utilize other backfield options to spell him from time to time. Just don’t be surprised if Elliott ends up with more attempts and yards than he accumulated last fall.
Tomlinson: Cowboys’ offense will lean on Zeke once again
Ezekiel Elliott is going to win back-to-back rushing titles. The Cowboys’ offensive line is built for the run game, so he’ll get plenty of carries. And with as good Dak Prescott was in his rookie season, they will have to run the ball to be successful on offense. It’s just hard for me to argue against Dallas’ run game.
Odds say Ezekiel Elliott will shatter 1,500 rushing yards, long shot for 2K – Larry Hartstein, SportsLine.com
A NFL player has gone over 2,000 rushing yards in a season seven times. Will Ezekiel Elliott make it eight? Here are the odds.
Will Ezekiel Elliott rush for 2,000 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Yes +1000 (risk $100 to win $1,000)
No -3500 (risk $3,500 to win $100)
Ezekiel Elliott total rushing yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Over 1550.5 (-160, risk $160 to win $100)
Under 1550.5 (+130, risk $100 to win $130)
Pick: If Elliott stays healthy, he’ll clear 1,600 rushing yards with ease.
And here are the odds for LeSean McCoy or Le’Veon Bell cracking the 2,000-yard mark.
Will LeSean McCoy rush for 2,000 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Yes +1200 No -6000
Will Le’Veon Bell rush for 2,000 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Yes +1400 No -8500
Cowboys have ‘significant’ role for WR Ryan Switzer – Jeremy Bergman, NFL.com
While some presumed Ryan Switzer’s selection meant Cole Beasley could soon be replaced by a younger, healthier model, Bergman writes that Dallas has other plans in mind for both wideouts.
Having Switzer as a complement to Beasley instead of a replacement could change dramatically how the Cowboys go about their offensive game plan in 2017. Dallas isn’t the first team to “downsize” in the wake of New England’s spread-heavy, James White-dominated Super Bowl victory; for instance, Carolina drafted two tailback-receiver hybrids in the first two rounds and the Pats doubled down by adding Rex Burkhead to a running back room that already boasts pass-catchers White and Dion Lewis.
How the Cowboys use Switzer when the lights go on in September will dictate how they plan to get to the next level on offense after last season’s breakout campaign.
While battling injury, Jaylon Smith and Charles Tapper forged a bond that could jump start the Cowboys defense – Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Hairopoulos takes an in-depth look at the how Smith and Tapper worked through their injuries together.
That left Tapper and Smith sweating and rehabbing together, along with athletic trainer Britt Brown, while the rest of the team practiced, jelled and put together a 13-3 record. They worked off to the side, on resistance cords or in the training and weight rooms, and watched the games as interested observers.
“We worked out together every day, we ran together every day,” Smith said. “We became so close, even getting the chance to meet each other’s families. You know, when you’re out, you got to be able to persevere. We were experiencing that together.”
“It was every day together,” Tapper said. “I’d sit with Jaylon in the training room. I was keeping him going, and he would keep me going. The guys on the team, they had a bigger focus. We needed to help them focus on the season. They didn’t need to worry about our problems. We were going to worry about our problems and help each other cope, and that’s exactly what we did.”