The Dallas Cowboys have limped through the first half of the 2020 season. Dallas has played anywhere near the level of expectations the franchise had before the campaign. The concern has now shifted toward star running back Ezekiel Elliott, especially after Hall of Famer Troy Aikman’s recent comments.
Cowboys off to an atrocious start to the 2020 season
The Cowboys entered the 2020 season with high aspirations of being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Those hopes have quickly fallen flat as the franchise has dropped six out of their first eight games, including losing five out of their previous six contests. Dallas is still technically in a position to contend for the NFC East division title with a two-game deficit behind the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys have a significant hurdle ahead that could be too much to overcome, especially without Dak Prescott for the rest of the season. The team also has substantial losses to their offensive line with both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins out for the remainder of the 2020 campaign.
Dallas’ struggles have now shifted the focus onto their star running back’s declined production, with former franchise great Troy Aikman chiming in on the situation.
Troy Aikman’s concern about Ezekiel Elliott
Among the Cowboys’ shortcomings this season, it has seen star running back Ezekiel Elliott’s production showing decline.
Elliott’s numbers haven’t been anywhere his usual realm throughout much of the year. Hall of Famer Troy Aikman recently discussed the possibility of the Pro Bowler slowing down as he told 96.7 FM/1310 AM this week that he believes the wear and tear could be catching up to him. (H/T The Spun)
“I think that the wear and tear, he’s a physical runner, Aikman said. “He runs as hard as anybody that I’ve ever seen, quite honestly, and I think he’s a great finisher and all that. But that begins to take a toll, and it starts to happen about this time.”
Elliott’s production has fallen well below his usual standards as he has career-low numbers nearly across the board. He is averaging only 65.1 rushing yards per game on a career-low 3.9 yards per attempt and is a fumble shy (five) from tying his highest season total.
The 25-year-old is still on a trajectory to record his fourth career 1,000-yard campaign, but his production isn’t at his typical standards. Aikman’s comments point out some concerns, but it should be noted that the Cowboys are playing without Dak Prescott and two of their premier offensive linemen in Tyron Smith and La’el Collins for the rest of the season.
The lack of offensive production from the quarterback position has played a significant part in Elliott’s reduced numbers. If anything, the Cowboys will monitor their star running back’s healthy moving forward the rest of the season.
Dallas still holds plenty of faith in Ezekiel Elliott
The more Ezekiel Elliott struggles over the remaining 2020 season, the greater the sense of concern will be around him.
Elliott has been the franchise offensive cornerstone throughout his career behind his elite production. The Cowboys rewarded his performance with a six-year, $90 million extension that runs through the 2026 season. Dallas does have an early out before the 2023 campaign with only a $6.7 million dead cap hit.
The financial hit becomes more team-friendly for the 2024 season, with only a $2.6 million dead cap hit. Meanwhile, the deal’s final two years don’t possess any dead cap holds toward the team salary cap. There is still plenty of time before things reach considering that possibility.
The 2020 campaign stands alone due to the number of significant injuries and the team’s porous play. It may signal that the Cowboys could be starting to keep an eye on the situation moving forward.