Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy Reveals Plan For Ezekiel Elliott, RBs

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
NFL Analysis Network

The Dallas Cowboys brought back Ezekiel Elliott to help fortify their running back situation, and head coach Mike McCarthy already has plans for the rushing attack in 2024.

When asked how much Elliott will play next season, McCarthy said he will be part of a rotation in the backfield.

“We’re running back by committee,” McCarthy said, via Michael Baca of NFL.com. “But I think he’ll definitely play at the level that he’s played, I know, in my time here. I anticipate that. I don’t see any drop off in the way he moves. He’s in good shape. … He’s come in here and picked up right where he’s left off.”

McCarthy may not feel like Elliott has declined, but the numbers tell a different story.

Elliott spent the 2023 campaign with the New England Patriots, playing in every game and rushing for 642 yards and three touchdowns while averaging a meager 3.5 yards per carry. He also caught 51 passes for 313 yards and a couple of scores.

The 28-year-old, who played his collegiate football at Ohio State, was originally selected by the Cowboys with the fourth overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.

He spent the first seven years of his career in Dallas and made three trips to the Pro Bowl while also earning a First-Team All-Pro selection. He led the league in rushing twice during that time, topping out a 1,631 yards during his rookie season.

Obviously, Elliott is not the same elite rusher he once was, but perhaps he will be able to be more efficient in the committee backfield that McCarthy has on tap for 2024.

McCarthy has used committee backfields before and thinks that they are very appropriate in the modern game.

“Oh, absolutely. I have more experience with that,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s really the times that we’re in. … Seventeen games is a lot of football — that’s a big role for those guys. Don’t get me wrong, they’d all like to carry it like the old days and have those touches, but you want those guys fresh at the most important time of the year. So, that’s all part of planning and how you look at projections of play time.”

Elliott joins a backfield that also includes Deuce Vaughn and Rico Dowdle. Last year, Tony Pollard was the club’s featured back, but he signed with the Tennessee Titans via free agency. Some expected the Cowboys to try and sign a high-profile halfback like Derrick Henry, but they did not have the money for that.

Dallas was also unable to secure a running back in the NFL Draft.

We’ll see if Mike McCarthy is able to find some success with Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys’ other running backs in his committee approach next season.

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