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Zeke Elliott Suddenly Not Breaking Off Long Runs Anymore is a Problem for the Cowboys

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 13:  Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Steven Ryan/Getty Images

What made Ezekiel Elliott such a desired prospect out of Ohio State was the fact that he could break off the big 70-yard touchdown run just as easily as he could bludgeon a team to death with four-yard bursts up the middle on a crucial third down.

More recently, however, the Dallas Cowboys running back hasn't showed the same explosiveness that he did as a rookie. In that amazing 2016, he had five runs of 30 yards or more. In the two and a half years since then, he has amassed just four-- including zero through Week 6 of 2019.

If Elliott essentially morphs into LenDale White and is only capable of grinding out two-yard runs up the gut, this offense is doomed.

Dak Prescott has picked up his play from previous years, but he's at his best off of play action or in the RPO. Consequently, teams are more afraid of Kellen Moore's passing game when they fear that Zeke can break off a long run at a moment's notice. As talented as Elliott is, teams aren't going to fear a one-cut, north and south runner the same way they would have feared the guy who was unstoppable in his rookie year.

Elliott is still arguably the best running back in the league due to his ability to run, receive, and block, but the stats show he hasn't been as explosive post-contract extension. Dallas simply needs to figure out some way to generate long runs for they No. 1 back, lest the offense go into the toilet.