At this point in the NFL season, things have started to take shape; while there’s still a bit of uncertainty, there’s been enough football to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Given what we’ve seen, it’s safe to slot the Dallas Cowboys into the latter category. Things in Texas, however, could still be getting worse.
With each passing week, it seems like the Dallas Cowboys find themselves facing a new challenge. That’s true again for Week 9; they could be facing the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers without their $90 million star.
The Dallas Cowboys season just keeps getting worse
Almost everyone is familiar with Murphy’s Law, the concept that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” That’s certainly been the case for the 2020 Dallas Cowboys.
When the season began, the Cowboys seemed to be in decent shape. Dak Prescott hadn’t signed a long-term deal, but he was still on the roster; Mike McCarthy wasn’t the perfect pick as head coach, but he wasn’t Jason Garrett. Since then, though, things have completely collapsed.
At first, the main offender seemed to be Dallas’ historically bad defense; no matter how good your offense is, it’s tough having to score 40-plus points every game. Then, quarterbacks became the main storyline.
Dak Prescott, of course, suffered a gruesome ankle injury during Week 5’s date with the New York Giants. He was replaced by Andy Dalton, who suffered a concussion in Week 7. That forced Ben DiNucci into action; after one poor performance, it seems like Mike McCarthy will be starting another new signal-caller in Week 9.
As those quarterback changes would suggest, the Cowboys have struggled to get results. They’re currently sitting at 2-6 with plenty of off-field drama, too.
The Dallas Cowboys could be without Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday
The Dallas Cowboys injuries aren’t only at quarterback, though. Heading into Week 9, the club could be without their $90 million running back, Ezekiel Elliott.
During the week, ESPN’s Todd Archer reported that “Elliott suffered a hamstring strain while trying to track down a fumble return for a touchdown in last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.” While the team was hopeful that he’d be able to suit up on Sunday, it seems like that won’t be the case.
On Saturday afternoon, Michael Gehlkin of the Dallas Morning News reported that the “Cowboys are preparing to be without RB Ezekiel Elliott (hamstring) on Sunday vs. Steelers.” The team also bumped an extra fullback up from the practice squad, presumably as an insurance policy, if Elliott can’t take the field.
Ezekiel Elliott seems ready to play, but his injury is still another challenge for a struggling team
From a cynical perspective, you could say that Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t lived up to his $90 million price tag this season. Even if that’s true, his injury won’t make things any easier for the Dallas Cowboys.
Regardless of who Dallas has under center, they’ll probably need all the help they can get; even Andy Dalton, who has plenty of talent, struggled behind the Cowboys’ patchwork offensive line. That’s where a good running back comes in.
Beyond serving as an extra blocker, a running back can be a safety valve of a struggling quarterback. Hand-offs can help slow a pass rush down, forcing them to spend an extra second to stay on the right side of the ball; they also, perhaps even more importantly, don’t require a fourth-stringer to stand in the pocket and make too many decisions.
Even if Elliott can take the field on Sunday afternoon, he won’t be 100%; given how important he’ll probably be to the Dallas Cowboys’ game plan, that’s enough to cause some additional concern. When your offensive options are limited to ‘let a fourth-string quarterback try to make plays’ or ‘hand the ball to an injured running back who’s playing through a hamstring issue,’ things clearly aren’t in a good spot.