Ezekiel Elliott: Cowboys offense must 'be better early'


Another week brings more questions on what is going on with the Dallas Cowboys offense.

The Cowboys (1-2) rank at or near the bottom of the league in multiple offensive categories, including 30th in total offense (277.7 yards per game), 31st in passing (145 yards), 30th in touchdowns (4) and 31st in scoring (13.7 points per game).

Head coach Jason Garrett has addressed offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's play calling at least twice through three games, stating after Week 1 he has "tremendous faith" in Linehan before giving another vote of confidence on Tuesday.

One area of the Cowboys' offense that hasn't gone wrong surrounds running back Ezekiel Elliott, whose 274 yards rushing are tied for first in the league.

Elliott, however, provided a one-word response of "no" to reporters, via Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram, when asked Wednesday if he would ask Linehan for more touches out of the backfield.

Instead, the running back believes the early-season issues fall on execution and playing from behind.

"I mean, I would love to see it more, but I just think the nature of the games we've played in these first three games, we've been down," Elliott said, via the Star-Telegram. "We've been having to try to come back. It's hard to come back and try to run the ball. When you run out of time in the game you can't just be sitting there trying to pound it. You can't have nine-minute drives when you need to score in three possessions. You know what I mean. You've got to conserve that clock and try to score as fast as you can."

Elliott's response has merit when considering Dallas' two losses, which saw the Cowboys attempting to overcome double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys were down 16 points to the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 before losing 16-8, and faced a 24-6 score against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 before losing 24-13.

"At the end of the day, if you go back and watch the film, it's poor execution on offense," Elliott said. "You can't run the ball if you're down by 17 points. That's what it is. If we get behind, we're going to have to throw the ball. We're not going to be able to do what we want to do.

"So what we have to do, so we can be able to run the ball more, is be better early in the game. If we're better early in the game and we're not taking those three-and-outs, if we're not in long down and distance, we can run the football. If we can execute early then we can run the football as much as we want."

Still, the key for the Cowboys is finding a way to get the passing game going to provide balance to the running attack, which hasn't been an issue.

In Week 3, quarterback Dak Prescott completed 19 of 34 passes for 168 yards, marking the ninth time in his last 11 games that he didn't top 200 yards passing. Through three games, Prescott averages just 5.7 yards per completion.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the passing game might have to wait another week to get rolling as a complementary function to Elliott given Sunday's opponent.

The Detroit Lions enter Week 4 ranked first against the pass, allowing 152 yards per game, and they come off an impressive outing where the defense held New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to 133 yards passing.