By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
The question in Dallas shouldn’t be Dak or Tony … not anymore it shouldn’t. Nope, the question in Dallas should be Ezekiel or Eric, and this one has nothing to do with starting.
And everything to do finishing.
I'm talking, of course, of rookie Ezekiel Elliott's pursuit of Eric Dickerson's NFL rookie record of 1,808 yards, a mark that has stood for 33 years. Prior to the season, Elliott said he planned on breaking it, and while that made for good copy it seemed his chances were something like … oh, say, the Raiders moving to Saskatchewan.
But look what's happening now.
Where Elliott once seemed a longshot to squeeze Dickerson, now he's very much in the picture. Granted, the odds are still long – he would have to average 110.5 yards per game over his last 11 starts – but Elliott is back on the radar. Reason: Despite a slow start, the guy averages 117.2 yards per game, meaning … meaning, he would finish with 1,874, breaking Dickerson's mark.
But that’s not all. Over his last four games he not only became the first NFL rookie to rush for 130 or more yards in four consecutive games, but he's averaging … averaging … 142.25 yards per start. Furthermore, his season high of 157 yards was achieved last weekend … against the league's No.1-ranked run defense.
He has this weekend off, but his next thee games are against the Eagles, Browns and Pittsburgh – with the Steelers ranked 13th, the Eagles 18th and the Browns 27th vs. the run. Of the three, the Steelers allow the most yards per carry (4.8), while the Browns allow the fewest (4.0). What's more, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have also allowed five runs of 20 or more yards, tied for third-worst in the NFL behind San Francisco (9) and Houston (7).
So that makes Elliott's improbable challenge a little more ... well, probable.
When we had Dickerson on a Talk of Fame Network broadcast last month I asked him if thought Elliott could do what Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Terrell Davis, Adrian Peterson, you name it, could not the past three decades -- and that's eclipse his rookie rushing record.
Now, keep in mind, this was in the immediate aftermath of Elliott's 51-yard effort vs. the Giants in Game One.
"Yes, I do," Dickerson said. "This is the reason why: Starting the season off is no big deal. It happened to me. I mean I started off slow in '84 when I had that 2,000-yard season. (And) my rookie season I started off with 91 yards and not a touchdown.
"They have a great offensive line over there in Dallas. Dak Prescott is a great quarterback. He has a lot of upside and a lot of potential. (And) he can keep that eight-and-nine-man front off the line of scrimmage. But do I want him (Elliott) to break that record? No, I don’t."
Understandable, and stay tuned.
Dak vs. Tony is no longer the issue in Dallas. Ezekiel vs. Eric is … and, considering how Elliott is playing, it should be. If nothing else, this is one decision we're going to have to wait to play itself out.
(Ezekiel Elliott photos courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)