Seems like Giants fan just can’t catch a break eh?
At the mid-way point of yet another very entertaining NFL season, as always there have been many surprises. Some are good, some are bad. There are many to choose from, like the Panthers 3-5 record, the amazing play of guys like Matt Ryan and Derek Carr that are thrusting them into the MVP conversation, and the smooth transition of Terrelle Pryor Sr. from quarterback to wide receiver. The most surprising of them all, though, has been the Dallas Cowboys and the phenomenal football they’ve been playing. Even more surprising is the fact that the reason the Cowboys have been playing so well isn’t due to the usual suspects like Tony Romo or Dez Bryant. It’s because of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott; two rookies who have been playing some of the best football we’ve seen in a while.
Looking at the two of them, it is much easier to see why Elliott is so successful. This guy was the top running back in last year’s draft and the fourth overall pick, for good reason too. After rushing for nearly 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns in 3 seasons at Ohio State to go along with about 450 receiving yards, this guy had every NFL team drooling at his tape. He’s also living every running backs dream situation in Dallas, where he gets to play behind the best offensive line in football every week. But even with all the hype surrounding Elliott, I think it’s safe to say that he has surpassed expectations by a longshot.
When it comes to Dak, it’s not as easy to see that he has been playing as well as he has. After having an up-and-down draft process, Dak fell all the way to the fourth round and was taken by Dallas with the 135th pick overall back in May. Through 4 seasons at Mississippi State, Dak put up some impressive numbers. He threw for 9,376 yards and 70 touchdowns, earning a total passer rating of 146.0. He also proved to be productive with his feet, rushing for 2,521 yards and 41 touchdowns. Many people will forget that this is the same guy who led Mississippi State to a 9-0 start (10-3 overall) in 2014 where they were ranked the best team in the country for five consecutive weeks. After seeing all this you may be asking yourself why Dak wasn’t the first quarterback taken in the draft. The main reason is because in the 2015 season, Dak’s production dipped a bit, but that was mainly due to the fact that he was constantly getting beat up every play since the Bulldogs had poor protection. Going into the draft I personally was very high on Dak even though lots of people had doubts and weren’t sure about how he would fit into the game’s highest level of competition. I always enjoyed watching him play in college and I thought he would be a good NFL quarterback at the very least. So far through his first 8 weeks in the NFL, he’s proven that he isn’t just a good quarterback, he’s an excellent quarterback.
For those of you who don’t know, let’s take a look at just how well these two are playing. Elliott has been lighting up the football field on a weekly basis, totaling up about 900 yards and 7 touchdowns so far. If he keeps up this pace, he should be nearing 1800 yards and 14 touchdowns by the end of the season, but it’s not likely that will happen. Nevertheless, this guy has been the best back in the league and leads the NFL in rushing. He’s averaging 5.0 yards per carry and putting up a strong MVP case, even though I would cool down the hype on him actually winning it this year.
Dak, proving draft scouts are very overrated, has been near-perfect so far in the beginning of his NFL career. He’s thrown for 2,020 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a passer rating of 104.2 and completion percentage of 66.45%. He’s also done a nice job rushing the football with 125 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. The most impressive stat, though, has been the tremendous job he’s been doing in regards to taking care of the football. Not only has he only thrown 2 interceptions on 248 passing attempts, which is remarkable for anybody let alone a rookie, but he didn’t throw his first interception until Week 6. Dak has already broken Tom Brady’s 162 passes without an interception to start a career, an NFL record, with 163 passes. If he keeps up this kind of play this will be the beginning of a long list of records Dak can break throughout his career, barring any major setbacks.
These two have been angels sent from above for this Cowboys team. With a below-average defense where promising players like Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence are suffering suspensions for violating the NFL’s drug policies, Dez still dealing with some lingering injuries, and the ever-so-fragile Tony Romo suffering yet another injury after messing up his back in the preseason, this team was expected to their second disappointing season in a row. But thanks to Dak and Zeke, they have been arguably the best team in football. As a Giants fan I’m very scared as long as these two are healthy. Thankfully were doing pretty well too *knocks on wood*, but the Cowboys have cushioned themselves a nice lead in the NFC East. How about the NFC East by the way, going from the worst division in football to the best in just one season. Dak and Zeke are two big reasons for that. But anyway, I’m getting off topic.
The sky is the limit for these two. They’ve been really fun to watch and show no signs of slowing down their red-hot play. The fact that they’re rookies makes it all the more exciting not just for the Cowboys, but the NFL as a whole. They are prime examples of the fact that more players have recently seemed to be seeing smoother transitions into the NFL from college, and that colleges are doing a fine job of preparing their players for life in the pros. They represent the future of football and they’re making it look pretty darn great.
The 31 other NFL teams better watch out because Dak and Zeke aren’t some phonies or pleasant surprises that will eventually burn out. They are the real deal.