Could Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott, have handled the RBs knee injury better?

Our @StarConscience feels Elliott playing through a PCL tear since Week 4 is indicative of putting the team’s interests above protecting a warrior from himself, and hurting themselves in the long run.

Ezekiel Elliott has been incredibly durable during his NFL career. Besides missing six games in 2017 due to a suspension, Elliott has only missed the season finale for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 and 2018, both as pre-playoff rests, and one game with a calf strain in 2020.

The 2021 season was the fourth 1,000-yard campaign for Elliott in six seasons. However, after two 100-yard performances and averaging 90.4 yards per game with five rushing touchdowns in the first five weeks, Elliott registered just 45.8 yards a contest in the last 12 games, and the reason why was because he played with a partially torn PCL for most of the season which was revealed after the Cowboys playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the wild-card round.

Elliott’s dedication and commitment to his teammates are admirable and he should be respected for it. Also, it’s understandable why he would want to remain on the field and protect his spot on the depth chart with a guy like Tony Pollard behind him who showed his worth by gaining 719 yards on 5.5 yards per carry in 2021.

In this case, though, the Cowboys dropped the ball, failing to protect the player from himself.

A partially torn PCL is considered a Grade 2 sprain, treated without operation as long as there is no other damage to the surrounding ligaments or tendons in the knee. A Grade 3 requires arthroscopic surgery and since Elliott announced he would not be going under the knife, it’s a fair assumption he has a Grade 2.

Grade 2 sprains are normally treated with a knee brace (which Elliott started wearing midway through the injury), physical therapy and anti-inflammatories.

Another important factor in recovery? The RICE Method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Almost every orthopedic website discussing partial PCL tears identifies a recovery period ranging from several weeks to several months.

If the Cowboys would have gone the route of sitting Elliott for a few games they may have gotten a more productive and certainly a more well-rested version of him to close out the season and even into the playoffs. Perhaps the Cowboys doctors could not guarantee that a few weeks of rest would not have significantly aided Elliott’s return to form, that his situation was one that would require the far end of the spectrum, but it’s certainly noteworthy that a few weeks off wasn’t even attempted.

During the last 12 games, not only did Elliott’s production go down but it was noticeable he was playing hurt. Although Pollard hasn’t shown capable of carrying the load Elliott can for a full season, he was more than capable of holding down the fort for a few weeks while Elliott got to rest.

This potential mishandling of Elliott’s injury falls squarely on the Cowboys as an organization. Yes, winning games is what any team’s main objective is but it should never come before the health and well-being of a player. Most injuries a player attempts to play through run the risk of related injury to that part of the body, or another through compensation.

It should be noted Elliott avoided further injury here, and that’s part of the delicate balance of being a professional player and the ridiculous gamut they put their bodies through to be among the best at their trade.

The days of Elliott leading the league in rushing may be behind him but he proved during the early part of this season he’s still capable of being a very productive runner. That’s what makes the Cowboys’ decision to keep putting him on the field egregious, in my estimation. The risk, although it worked, could have been disastrous not just for this season but for the rest of Elliott’s career.

Regardless of the reason why the Cowboys didn’t decide to sit Elliott for a while this situation is a bad look for them and paints the picture that they are willing to risk a player’s long-term health just to win games. It’s highly doubtful that’s the case, but the optics are not good.

 

Cowboys RB Elliott played majority of season with torn PCL

After the end of the campaign, Ezekiel Elliott cleared the air about the injury he fought through all season long. | From @CDBurnett7

Heading into the 2021 season, the hype around the Dallas Cowboys offense was at an all-time high. While the offseason was filled with questions about  quarterback Dak Prescott in his return from his ankle injury and training camp shoulder injury, running back Ezekiel Elliott’s slimmed down  rejuvenated form had fans excited over the possibilities.

Elliott lived up to the hype, starting with 422 rushing yards and six total touchdowns in the first five games, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. As the season progressed though, Elliott’s efficiency began to slow down. He had injured his knee and following the team’s 23-17 elimination from the playoffs on Sunday, he revealed the extent of the injury. Elliott suffered a torn PCL, but still managed to play in all of Dallas’ 18 games.

Elliott’s leadership and relentless drive to win is exemplified by his playing with such an injury. There is a discussion of why the club didn’t rely more on backup Tony Pollard with Elliott not at his best. Pollard’s touches increased with Elliott being hampered, but then the backup suffered a torn plantar fascia in his foot, leaving the club with two hobbled running backs.

It was declared prior to Sunday’s game that Pollard was as close to 100% as the coaching staff had seen him, but he saw just four carries and two targets on the game.

Elliott didn’t have a strong day rushing the ball, totaling 31 yards on 12 carries, but he made a highlight play in pass protection, leveling two blockers to set up a first down. Dallas fell in a nail biter after coming inches and milliseconds from executing the comeback on multiple occasions. Elliott expressed his frustration after the game.

For Elliott, it was another 1,000-yard rushing season but that’s never what mattered for the former All-Pro and he sacrificed his own health for a chance. Elliott relays the injury won’t require surgery but now he begins a long offseason of recovery and rebuilding after a heartbreaking end to the 2021 season.

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Advanced stats say surging 49ers present formidable foe for Cowboys

Cowboys scored over 100 more points and allowed less points than SF, but the 49ers hold a slight edge in key win indicators. @ProfessorO_NFL dives into DVOA, EPA, ANY/A and Toxicity.

The 2021 NFL regular season officially ended with the 12-5 Dallas Cowboys dominating the Philadelphia Eagles in a record-breaking night for quarterback Dak Prescott. The Cowboys were short-handed due to injuries and COVID-19 cases but able to win on Saturday then watch to see if they could move up in NFC seeding. With the Seattle Seahawks beating the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers upsetting the Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys were able to move from the four seed to the three and will have their sights on the 49ers this Sunday in the opening round of the playoffs.

The 49ers ended their season on a high with a come-from-behind victory. They finished the season third in their division with a 10-7 record but with the sixth seed. They will fly into Dallas with similar momentum as both teams have won four of their last five games.

This matchup features several intriguing storylines, however the one that is sure to garner a lot of attention will be the matchup of Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn facing off with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for Quinn’s Atlanta Falcons during their best days that included a trip to the Super Bowl. Their knowledge of each other’s schemes and thought processes presents an interesting meeting.

Each week we open up the Advanced Stat Notebook to analyze how each team ranks in EPA, DVOA, ANY/A and Toxic Differential. These four key metrics have a high correlation to win probability.

Eagles’ offense has EPA edge, but do Cowboys own Week 18 advanced stat title?

Think the Cowboys have been light years ahead of the Eagles this season? Think again. The stats notebook shows a fairly even matchup between the rivals. | From @ProfessorO_NFL

The NFC East features two playoff teams this season in the 11-5 Dallas Cowboys and 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles. With both teams facing injury challenges and COVID zapping their rosters, there has been a lot of chatter regarding how many starters will play and for how long. The word out of Dallas this week has been that the Cowboys plan to play their starters with a goal of winning, but their starters are compromised, especially on defense.

The Cowboys have won four of their last five games but were unable to beat the Arizona Cardinals last week, losing 25-22.  The Eagles are currently on a four-game winning streak, picking up a win over the Washington Football Team last weekend.

Each week we open up the Advanced Stat Notebook to analyze how each team ranks in EPA, DVOA, ANY/A and Toxic Differential. These four key metrics have a high correlation to win probability.

Cowboys’ Elliott ‘encouraged by the direction’ of hurt knee, expects to be 100% by playoffs

Elliott has been dealing with an injured knee since October. He’s started to regain explosiveness and feels good about where he’ll soon be. | From @StarConscience

Ezekiel Elliott has dealt with an injured right knee since the Dallas Cowboys Week 4 win against the Carolina Panthers. Even though he’s experienced expected soreness, Elliott hasn’t missed a game in 2021 and is just 101 yards away from his fourth 1,000-yard season.

Although he’s only gained 89 yards in the last two games, Elliott has run with more conviction and has scored a total of three touchdowns. As the Cowboys prepare for an important NFC showdown with the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, Elliott feels good about his progress in getting back to full health.

“I’m very encouraged by the direction it’s going,” Elliott said. “I feel more explosive. I can tell I feel faster. I can tell there’s more stability. …If I keep progressing, by playoffs, I think I’ll be close to 100 percent.”

Elliott has been wearing a knee brace for the last several games to help offset the pressure on the joint.

The Cowboys running game was a driving force to begin the season as they averaged 164.3 yards in the first six games with two performances north of 200. That number has dropped to 126.9 yards for the season after several pedestrian performances. However, the Cowboys are still ranked in the top six in rushing, and if Elliott’s progress continues, his bruising style of running combined with the explosive ability of Tony Pollard will be a major weapon for the final two weeks of the season as the Cowboys look to possibly secure the NFC’s top seed.

A more effective Elliott and Pollard will allow Dak Prescott and the passing game, which got back on track in Week 16 against the Washington Football Team, to be more productive as defenses adjust and load the box.

Despite Elliott’s knee issue this season he’s still averaging well over four yards per attempt and has scored 12 total touchdowns (10 rushing, two receiving). That speaks to the toughness and warrior mentality he has and the healthier he becomes the more dangerous the Cowboys’ offense will be going forward.

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They tried it, but Washington can’t compare to Cowboys in advanced analytics

What areas are the WFT competitive with the division-leading Cowboys? A look at EPA, DVOA, Success rate and more metrics for Week 16. | From @ProfessorO_NFL

The Cowboys have three scenarios for clinching the division this week, and it’s wholly possible their work will be done for them before they hit the field on Sunday night. On Thursday, they earned a spot in the playoffs by virtue of the San Francisco 49ers’ loss at the hand of the Tennessee Titans, but just because others can and have assisted Dallas it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be prepared to handle their own business.

The Dallas Cowboys (10-4) will host the Washington Football Team (6-8) on Sunday Night Football with the opportunity to give Cowboys fans a late Christmas gift.  The Cowboys are currently the No. 2 seed in the NFL and have chance to clinch the divisional title with any of the following scenarios: a win/tie over Washington, a Philadelphia Eagles loss/tie or a combination of 1.5 wins by LV, Jax, LAC, NE, MIN and Atlanta). All of those other contests happen earlier in the day on Sunday, but things still could come down to a divisional matchup.

The Cowboys are riding a three-game-in-three-week road winning streak, the first time they’ve accomplished this feat since 1969. They boast the No. 1 defense in the league on third-down conversions allowed (31.9%) and are tied for No.1 in takeaways with 31 on the season.

The Football Team is in the midst of a five-game stretch of NFC East opponents. They’ve lost the last two games to Dallas and Philadelphia and their playoff odds are getting increasingly smaller with each defeat. Some good news for WFT is that quarterback Taylor Heinicke was removed from COVID protocol and will be eligible to play Sunday Night.

Each week we open up the Advanced Stat Notebook to analyze how each team ranks in EPA, DVOA, ANY/A and Toxic Differential. These four key metrics have a high correlation to win probability. Let’s review this week’s edition to see which team will get presents and which will get coal.

WATCH: Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence causes INT, Elliott capitalizes

The Cowboys defense forced a turnover and Ezekiel Elliott took the opportunity with a touchdown on the second play of the ensuing drive.

The Cowboys’ offense has been pedestrian in the second half of the season and slow starts have become normal for a prolific offense in the first half of the season. On the first drive, penalties and missed blocks stalled a promising start for the offense.

Matching the script of recent weeks, Dan Quinn’s defense stepped up and forced a turnover. This time, it was a big hit from defensive end Demarcus Lawrence that led to a fly ball for cornerback Jourdan Lewis.

Following the interception return, the Dallas offense took over deep in New York territory. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is getting close to healthy with nagging injuries, broke through on the second play of the drive and carried defenders into the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown.

Considering the sluggish starts on offense, short fields might be the catalyst for quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense to start firing on all cylinders. Greg Zuerlein missed the extra point but the Cowboys hold a 6-0 lead after Elliott’s ninth rushing touchdown of the season.

Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, La’el Collins fined $10K each for sideline scuffle vs Washington

Elliott and Collins came to the aid of Dak Prescott after he was pushed out of bounds against Washington. Both fined 10K. | From @StarCosnscience

The quarterback position is the most important in the game of football, and players are taught to go the extra mile to protect them at all costs. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and right tackle La’el Collins took that to heart last Sunday against the Washington Football Team.

Dak Prescott was pushed out of bounds by Washington defensive lineman William Bradley-King in the fourth quarter. Elliott shoved him multiple times in retaliation and Collins ran into him from the field of play and shoved him while also throwing a punch during the skirmish. The incident will cost Elliott and Collins $10,000 each according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Collins was ejected for his part in the scuffle. Neither Elliott nor Collins regretted their actions when asked about the incident after the Cowboys’ 27-20 victory.

“It’s a brotherhood. We fight for ours. We all love each other,” Elliott said.

Collins went into more detail on why Bradley-King’s shove on Prescott caused him to react the way he did.

“It wasn’t really the late hit for me,” Collins said. “I felt it was more so, I felt like he was rolling toward Dak’s leg. It was uncalled for. I’m just here to protect my quarterback at all costs, and that’s the bottom line.”

The reaction by Elliott and Collins is understandable considering Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury in 2020, and who knows what could have happened if Prescott fell awkwardly. One thing should be apparent after this to all Cowboys opponents, if Prescott is violated, there will be consequences.

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Jerry Jones expecting Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott to carry ‘serious load’ vs Saints

Ezekiel Elliott’s knee issue won’t stop him from a being the bell cow runner against the Saints. Amari Cooper to return from COVID list.

Week 13 is a huge one for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. The club has lost three of their last four games and desperately need to find some momentum in December as they push for the playoffs.

Never at a loss for words, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made an appearance on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday. Jones gave an update about one of the Cowboys’ biggest offensive weapons and what his role will be against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday. Jones said he anticipates a serious workload for running back Ezekiel Elliott as the Cowboys look to stop a two-game losing streak.

“The facts are we’re expecting him to have a serious load against New Orleans,” Jones said of Elliott.

Elliott has been dealing with a knee issue since the Cowboys’ Week 4 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. Last week, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, the Cowboys were considering giving Elliott some rest and sitting him out against the Saints which would give him a two-and-a-half-week break before facing the Washington Football Team in Week 14.

The two-time rushing said on Sunday as the Cowboys started to prepare for the Saints that nobody had come to him about taking a game off.

“No one’s came to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott said.

Once the news came out that the Cowboys might sit Elliott it seemed that they were going to take the big picture approach and hand the keys to the car to Tony Pollard for a week. However, based on what Jones said, Elliott will be used heavily against the Saints’ third-ranked rush defense.

If Elliott is used a lot on Thursday he’ll be looking to get back to the way he was performing earlier in the season. During the first five games, he averaged 86.8 yards per game with two 100-yard outings. However, that has dipped 39.8 over the last five games.

It won’t be easy against a great Saints rush defense but if Elliott can somehow be effective the Cowboys have a great chance of controlling the pace of the game.

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Report: Cowboys may hold Ezekiel Elliott out of Week 13 game over knee concern

Mike McCarthy admitted to being “concerned” about the RB’s struggles; a source tells ESPN Elliott may be sidelined to let his knee heal. | From @ToddBrock24f7

After his second straight game with just a career-low nine rushing attempts, running back Ezekiel Elliott was at a loss to explain why he didn’t get more carries against the Raiders on Thanksgiving.

The 2.8-yard average he compiled across those tries was certainly a factor. But the knee injury that he’s been fighting through is likely part of it, too. Maybe even a bigger part. It may, in fact, be much more of an issue than the Cowboys have wanted to admit over the last month of play.

It may be significant enough that the team decides to take him off the field entirely. As per an ESPN report Friday, the team is considering giving Elliott “some time off” to heal from the injury. That may include “holding him out” of next Thursday night’s game in New Orleans, a source told network insider Ed Werder.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged Elliott’s lack of production Sunday after the team’s 36-33 overtime loss by saying simply, “I think Zeke was struggling a bit.”

Backup/change-of-pace- back Tony Pollard didn’t exactly see a big bump in his action, logging just 36 yards on ten carries as the team once again abandoned a rushing attack that was going nowhere.

When asked after the game whether his limited use was out of concern for his knee, which did seem to be bothering him on the field, Elliott was unable to provide much insight.

“I don’t know,” Elliott told the media. “I don’t know. I feel all right, but it probably was.”

Elliott hasn’t gotten more than 17 carries in a contest since Week 5. That game against the Giants was also the last time the two-time rushing champ amassed over 70 yards on the ground.

“I am concerned,” McCarthy told reporters on Friday via conference call when asked about Elliott. “He’s a warrior. He was fighting to get back in there every time, all day yesterday. I haven’t seen him personally yet today, and our medical information hasn’t come back yet as far as the things that come out of the game, so I don’t really have an update there. But, yeah, it’s that time of year. Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding, and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that, and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

Elliott admitted as recently as Tuesday that his knee has been bothering him, especially when he would take a hit during a game. He compared it to stubbing a toe and needing to “walk it off,” promising he’d be able to play through the soreness.

But the Cowboys may be taking that option off the table for him as the team tries to regain a once-formidable lead in the race to a division crown.

He’s a competitor,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. “Just like a lot of players this time of year- I think he said it- there’s a lot of players that have dings as you get later into the season. He’s a competitor. He wants to be out there playing. We were trying to spell him some yesterday. Obviously, Pollard is a hell of back, a hell of a playmaker for us. Trying to really manage [Elliott] to some degree yesterday.”

Now the Cowboys may manage him right into some forced time off, although Werder’s source claimed that putting Elliott on injured reserve was not believed to be a consideration.

The Cowboys’ final five games of the regular season include four meetings with NFC East foes and a home date against the Arizona Cardinals, currently the conference’s top seed. Holding Elliott out of the Cowboys’ Week 13 game with the Saints would give him two weeks of rest and rehab time before Dallas begins that important stretch.

“It’s obviously something that he’s battled through,” offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said Friday when asked about Elliott’s injury. “Obviously, I think that’s for Zeke and for the trainers and for everyone to continue to work through and make the decisions that are best for him and this team.”

For the first time in very long time, what’s best for the team may be having Elliott in street clothes on gameday.

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