With Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s legal options for staying on the field seemingly exhausted, the team will now find out just how much they will miss the defending rushing champion.
And while there’s no doubt that the next six games will be difficult without Elliott’s immense talents, all of the games on the schedule are winnable without him.
Now, don’t get me twisted. There isn’t another back on the roster as versatile or dynamic as the 2nd year player from Ohio St. But the guys replacing him aren’t exactly chopped liver.
Alfred Morris, who has been the primary backup in the first eight games, is a two time Pro Bowl player in his own right. He has also shown to be up to the task when handed the ball. He even rattled off a 70 yard run against the Rams in week 4.
Darren McFadden has been waiting in the wings. Lest Cowboys fans forget that the 30 year old McFadden is just two years removed from a 1,000 yard season in Dallas that for the majority of the season was quarterbacked by a bunch of guys named Stan (no offense to people named Stan intended).
And Rod Smith averaged nearly 8 yards per carry in mop up duty against San Francisco a few weeks ago.
Now, any one of these guys are not Elliott on their best day. But the three of them together should put up a more than competent rushing attack while he serves his suspension.
Now that begs the question. Who is the player the Cowboys can least live without?
QB Dak Prescott looks even better than he did in his inaugural season in which he won 13 games while taking Rookie of the Year honors. He’s spreading out the ball in the passing game, making the right calls on audibles, running when he needs to, and all but eliminating turnovers.
However the most important thing that Prescott brings to the table is leadership. Despite being only in his 2nd season, he commands the total respect of everyone in the locker room.
Waiting in the wings to take his place should the need arise is Cooper Rush. Rush, an undrafted rookie free agent from Central Michigan, dazzled his way into the hearts of Cowboys fans with his outstanding August performances against guys that are about to take their next customer on a test drive.
And while Rush has the requisite tools and may someday make a good NFL QB, he’s not remotely ready to step up in the middle of a stretch run and take a team to the playoffs. If Rush has to play in anything but a blowout this season, he may as well change his name to Stan (again, no offense intended).
The Cowboys offense will miss Zeke. But there is more than enough talent to compensate for his absence. The same cannot be said for Prescott. And as long as he stays upright, the Cowboys have a chance to make the playoffs. But if he doesn’t, it will be long winter with or without Zeke.
Let’s just hope Stan (no offense) stays on the sidelines.