Things didn’t go as planned for Ezekiel Elliott in the Dallas Cowboys' season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
Elliott — the two-time NFL rushing champion who has undoubtedly become one of the best running backs in the league in recent years — ran for just 33 yards on 11 carries in their 31-29 loss.
Yet Elliott isn’t here for any criticism of his game whatsoever.
Those who are bashing him for his performance, he said Wednesday, clearly don’t understand how football works.
“If you know football, then you can tell someone had a solid game without having the best statistics,” Elliott said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill. “I feel if you’re saying that, maybe they should be studying a little bit more.”
McCarthy: Elliott is ‘definitely on board’ with offensive plan
It wasn’t just Elliott that struggled on the ground last week in Tampa.
Cowboys running back Tony Pollard had just 14 yards on the ground in the game, while Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones combined for just 46 rushing yards for the Buccaneers.
Instead, the game was an aerial battle between Dak Prescott and Tom Brady.
Prescott, in his first game back after last season’s gruesome leg injury, threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns with one interception on 58 passing attempts. Brady threw for 379 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions — and set the Buccaneers up for a game-winning field goal in the final seconds after an 11-play, 57-yard drive that lasted less than 90 seconds.
With a passing battle ensuing the entire night, it’s easy to see why Elliott wasn’t the focus for the Cowboys offensively. He was busy protecting Prescott.
“Every play I’m given a job,” he said, via the Star-Telegram. “It’s my job to do that job to the best of its ability. I take a lot of pride in being well-rounded, do a lot of things and I think it’s big or a running back to keep the quarterback safe, keep him untouched.”
Elliott wasn’t frustrated with the Cowboys’ pass-heavy offense on Thursday either.
And should he need to fill that role again on Sunday — when the Cowboys take on the Chargers in Los Angeles, where they’ve opened as +3 underdogs on BetMGM — Dallas coach Mike McCarthy is confident that Elliott can handle that with ease.
“He really hasn’t [expressed any frustration],” McCarthy said of Elliott, via the Star-Telegram. “I know I say this all the time. He’s the same guy every day. He was in the quarterback meetings earlier. He’s all football. He understands exactly the why of what we’re doing. He’s definitely on board.”
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