Ezekiel Elliott & lots more @ NFLRT 11/4




Spotlighting that other Dallas Cowboys’ rookie… Ezekiel Elliott and lots more. All this week in NFLRT…

1) The past two weeks the questions have included at least one query involving the Cowboys and QB Dak Prescott. This week there is yet another Cowboys’ question but this time it’s about their other rookie… Ezekiel Elliot.

 Two parter…

 How much has Elliot’s rushing abilities contributed to Dak Prescott’s and the Cowboys hot start?

Also, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that Elliott “could face a lengthy suspension” as the result of an NFL investigation into allegations of domestic violence from an incident that occurred with his former girlfriend in July. If, he is suspended under the NFL’s Domestic Violence policy how hard of a hit on the Cowboys’ offense, and, by extension their overall team performance on the field will that be?  

Chad: Elliot’s ability to run the ball has made the passing game that much easier for Dak Prescott to manage to find his targets (Bryant, Beasley, and Witten).

Ezekiel Elliott (21)
Ezekiel Elliott (21)

Now, if he is suspended that will hurt the Cowboys. While Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar are capable backs and the Cowboys could still win games a lot would fall to Dak Prescott to win those games which is hard for a rookie to do especially late in the year.

Dan: I think both the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliot have contributed to the Cowboys’ offense tremendously. While teams are mainly focused on the pass in this pass-heavy league, they also have to be more aware of the dangerous rushing attack that Elliot brings to the table. Look at what he did to Green Bay after they were shutting down opponent after opponent rushing wise. Teams have to stack the box which leaves the Cowboys’ offense able to open up the playbook with play-action, delayed handoffs, etc. He lets Prescott do more as QB, which makes the offense a lot more dynamic and harder to contain.

While, I don’t know the circumstances surrounding this incident, I personally don’t believe he’ll receive any more than four games. While it’ll definitely destroy a big part of the offense, I don’t think it’ll hurt Dallas as much as it could. The only way it’ll destroy the Cowboys’ season is if he’s suspended the last four weeks of the regular season, or, one of his games is a playoff game.

Earl: Elliott is a huge reason why Dak has been playing so well. The Cowboys have a stout offensive line and feeding a back like Elliott makes the game manageable for Dak. It’s easier to run plays when it’s 2nd down and 3 yards, or 3rd down and one yard then it is to be stuck in long range. Either handing the ball off to Zeke or dumping it to him out the backfield is the smartest play in the playbook.

Ezekiel Elliott (21)
Ezekiel Elliott (21)

Losing Elliott to suspension would be detrimental. Yes, the Cowboys do have some decent back up running backs and Alfred Morris would be more than capable as the starter, but losing Zeke is losing their offense. A suspension would be problematic.

Jim: Elliot is a solid running back and is averaging over 100 yards a game. But, let’s be honest.  In that system, other running backs have thrived also.  You could slip any of a dozen other backs in his place, and they’d do just as good.

The secret to the Cowboys’ success is Dak Prescott.  Period.   

2) Can the Patriots run the table and make it back to the Super Bowl with just one loss?

Chad: Right now, I believe that they could they have a favorable schedule. The only real challenge in their way, that I see, is a Week 15 showdown in Denver. Other than that, the Jets may poise an issue being a divisional opponent but the way Brady is playing right now I don’t see that happening.

Can Pats run the table for 5th ring?
Can Pats run the table for 5th ring?

Dan: While, I certainly do think New England can run the table and win out while making the Super Bowl with only one loss to Buffalo in week 4, I still think that New England will end up losing a game they should’ve won and enter the playoffs at 14-2.

I think they have a fantastic team, especially offensively, and, getting Tom Brady back has been the best thing that happened to their offense. They’re good enough that they’re the AFC favorites and I think overall favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Earl: The Patriots are the best team in the NFL. Yes, they make it back to the Super Bowl and they win the damn trophy too. No one will stop them. No one will get in their way.

Jim: Of course they can.  They’re the best in the league and running the table will actually be rather easy for them.

3) The Jets’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick took a hard helmet to helmet hit in the first half of their game on Sunday against Cleveland. After the hit Fitzpatrick went through the NFL mandated concussion protocol and it was determined he was okay enough to return to play.

During CBS’ halftime show former QB Norman Julius “Boomer” Esiason questioned the rationale of leaving Fitzpatrick in the game saying that “(I don’t) know why he is out there” playing. That is about as vicious a hit to the head as you are going to take. His play is reflecting it. I’m wondering why he’s on the field. … It just doesn’t look right.”

Fitzpatrick 1st half number were to be polite pretty awful as the Jets were being soundly outplayed and on the field and on the scoreboard.  

Even though the Jets, and, to be fair, Fitzpatrick, rebounded and snuck out with a win against the winless Browns… did Esiason have a valid point about sitting Fitzpatrick in the 1st half?

Chad: Absolutely, he did everything the NFL has tried to do make the game safer introducing the concussion protocol, etc…

They had the shots to Cam Newton on opening night and now this which sends a mixed message about player safety which is something the league needs to continue to look at.

Jets' QB Fitzpatrick takes hit that raises questions about possible concussion
Jets’ QB Fitzpatrick takes hit that raises questions about possible concussion

Dan: While, I do think that Esiason had a valid point with regards to taking the safety route and putting in Petty, I don’t think that the Jets made the wrong decision in leaving Fitzpatrick in the game. They followed the rules by putting him through the concussion protocol system and he passed and therefore was eligible to return to the game. So, besides as a safety measure just in case, why keep him out?

According to the NFL’s rules and a third-party doctor confirmation, Fitzpatrick was able to return to the game and play. And, that’s what he did leading the Jets to a comeback victory over Cleveland, who they were down by 13 at halftime to. I don’t think they’re coming back from that with Petty at QB.

Earl: I watched the game and agreed with Boomer at halftime. That hit definitely disorientated Fitzpatrick, but, if he went through the protocol and passed, then he was fine to play.

His play in the 2nd half definitely did not look like a QB that had his bell rung, so he was good to go. Boomer, was making a reactionary call at the time, but he, like us, was not in that locker room. If, they said Fitz could play, he could play. Case closed.

Jim: Dr Esiason should stick to talking about football.

They rebounded, they won, and Boomer proved once again why he’s one of the worst announcers in the booth every weekend.

4) ESPN.com made a case for the Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri being the “Greatest Of All Time” … kicker division. Along with making his 43rd straight field goal, which set an NFL record, he also “… hasn’t missed a field goal since Week 2 of the 2015 season. Twenty-two of the kicks have been from at least 40 yards, including nine from at least 50 yards” and he is 3rd on the all-time points scored list with 2,325.

Do you agree with ESPN or not? Is Vinatieri the greatest kicker of all time or isn’t he? Why?

Chad: At this point I am going to say… yes.

Vinatieri has been consistent his entire career, both in the elements in New England, and, in the indoor settings of Indianapolis. He has made big kicks when his FG’s and won 2 Super Bowls at the buzzer. The man just makes kicking a ball 40-50 look so easy which it is not.

Dan: I think so. There aren’t really many options you can name who have been better overall kickers. Jason Elam and Jason Hanson are two kickers that come to mind who can make an argument, but, I think, Vinatieri is the best kicker of all-time for the reasons stated – 22 of the last 43 field goals made have been from 40+ yards and 9 from 50+ out? That’s ridiculously good.

Colts' kicker Adam Vinatieri (4)Colts' Adam Vinatieri sets NFL record for most consecutive field goals (Photo by Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)
Colts’ kicker Adam Vinatieri (4)Colts’ Adam Vinatieri sets NFL record for most consecutive field goals (Photo by Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)

And, you can’t say “well he plays in a dome” because he only plays in a dome 8 games a year (if he doesn’t travel to a dome stadium) and for most of his career, he played in New England in very snowy, cold, and windy conditions which is hard to kick in and he was still drilling field goals.

I have to say that he is the best kicker based on all of those facts.

Earl: I’m not exactly that savvy with kickers, and to be honest, I’m not too up to researching who’s better or who had the better stats.

Is Vinatieri the best kicker I have ever seen? Yeah. He has been the best kicker of my generation. That’s good enough for me. He’s won everywhere he’s gone. He’s made huge game winning kicks and he has the resume and rings to back it up. I’ll take that.

Jim: It’s not even a question actually.  Of course, he’s the greatest of all time.  Tell me anyone better?

Ahh, I see.  You can’t.

Just ask yourself… game on the line, 50 yards away, 3 seconds left. who else would you want kicking?  And, that answers that question.

5) Did Carolina’s win over Arizona just save their season, or, is it too little too late already for their season and any chance for making the playoffs?

Chad: Being basically halfway through the year there is chance they can still get to the playoffs; but with how the defense has performed? I do not see it happening.

Dan: I think that it keeps them alive, especially with how wide open the NFC South is as well as the entire NFC. While, I don’t think that they will make the playoffs, I do think that it keeps them with a fighting chance to grab the second wild card, or, maybe, if, they can come close to winning out, grab the top Wild Card or the division.Arizona Cardinals v Carolina Panthers

Do I think they will, though? No.

They just don’t have that spark that they had last season, their team looks off and they are definitely hurting from the loss of Josh Norman, which was just ridiculous. I know the Panthers’ organization are kicking themselves for that stupid move.

Earl: At 2-5 they are last place in the NFC South. The Falcons at 5-3 are leading the division, with the Buccaneers and Saints both at 3-4. Looking at the schedules of the respective teams, none of them have an easy schedule to finish the season.

With that said, I think the Panthers are missing the playoffs. Their defense is horrible. Some are blaming the decision to let Josh Norman go, but, it’s bigger than that. It’s like the Panthers forgot to play defense, and Cam Newton is returning to his sulking ways. Yes, he’s being hit low, high, and late, but, he’s back to not handling things well and that’s only going to spell disaster for the Panthers.

Jim: No, not in the slightest.  They have too many problems to overcome for a real season of success. They’ll do OK, and, they will win a few.  But for all purposes, their season is over.



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