This is a lot to dissect.
Ever since running back Ezekiel Elliott signed his massive extension last year, all eyes have been on the star player’s production. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman believes that we are starting to see Zeke slow down.
He was asked the question, “is Elliott starting to show signs of slowing down” on The Musers on 96.7 FM/1310 AM The Ticket, and he had this to say”
“I think it’s probably — it’s an interesting topic because what I find, and I think this has always been the case it seems, anyway, that when a team runs the ball well or a running back has a big day, the running back usually gets most of the credit. When the team is not running the ball well, then the offensive line gets most of the blame. It’s not dispersed evenly whereas at quarterback you get a lot of the credit and a lot of the blame. I think in some ways running backs are a little more immune to criticism when the running game is not working.”
Aikman further discussed Zeke’s contract. Last year, he was given a four-year, $60 million contract extension to bring his total deal worth six years and $90 million. However, Aikman believes that teams can effectively find players to run the ball without spending that type of money.
“And so, I heard you guys yesterday briefly in the car talking about whether you pay a guy that kind of money on the second contract, and I think a lot of teams would say no, especially in today’s game. I think they might have said no even back when I was playing or they would be hesitant to, and that was a different game as we know.”
Aikman noted that this is more of a passing league rather than the traditional days of running the football.
“Today’s game is obviously more of a passing league and we’ve seen so many teams with lesser players at that position still have success running the football. So it was a huge commitment and then you’re kind of holding on and hoping that he stays healthy, he can remain productive, but then when you get into games like this or seasons like this, when you’re not playing with a lead and you’re not able to continue to run the football.”
In the end, Aikman references the “wear and tear” of Zeke. At age 25, Elliott owns a career 1,301 rushing attempts for 5,926 rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns.
“But yeah, I think that the wear and tear, he’s a physical runner. 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.”