Ezekiel Elliott not 'discouraged' by career-worst day

It took 19 NFL games for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to have his first underwhelming performance in the league, which made Sunday an interesting case study in how Dallas' most important figures reacted to their top playmaker being shut down.

Jerry Jones, who expects Elliott to play this week on Monday Night Football against the Cardinals, had this to say of Elliott's nine-carry, eight-yard afternoon (via The Star-Telegram): "It is the first time that I've seen us play when Zeke was as neutralized as he was today. This was a first for me to see it. Well, for anybody. And, yes, you've got to give them credit. They took away the play-action and they took away some of our ability to move. Do we have the ability to adjust and go to other things? Sure we do. Again, I'll say this again, it's not us."

Head coach Jason Garrett oddly blamed the passing game: "They were loading up to stop the run. That was going to be their style of defense. They had a lot of guys around the line of scrimmage. They were loading up the box. ... We needed to have some success throwing the ball to get them out of that defense. We were not able to do that on a consistent basis."

Elliott said the uncertain status of his suspension didn't play a factor in his poor outing and seemed encouraged that he got the dud out of the way early much like he did last year. Elliott's previous career low was his debut performance in 2016 against the Giants.

"We definitely won't be discouraged," Elliott said, also via the Star-Telegram. "Last year at this time we were 1-1. It's a 16-game season and it's only Game 2. We can get so much better. If you're peaking right now, you're going to have a problem. You don't want to peak right now, you want to peak at the end of the season and get rolling. We just can't come out like this."

As I wrote Sunday in the Dallas-Denver what we learned piece, it was stunning to see the Cowboys with their backs against the wall. It happened so few times in the Elliott era and we've almost never seen Dak Prescott in the type of position where he's frantically throwing passes while the opposing defense gets to pin its ears back and rush straight for the quarterback. The beauty of their offense last year was how much control it provided both Prescott and Garrett throughout the game. Now, we know what happens when the game gets out of control.

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