Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dak Prescott Will Get A Chance To Pass Blitz Test In Green Bay

The ease with which Dak Prescott has passed every test that he has been administered continues to dazzle the football world.  To be honest, if you go all the way back to his first professional action in the preseason opener in the Los Angeles Coliseum, we are now approaching double-digit performances in a row where this rookie QB has left the masses with a good taste in their mouths.  He was largely ignored in the first two days of his draft class, and then within the first month of his NFL career is making every other draft-room recheck their notes that said not to touch him.  
That look in his eye seems to be one of his finest attributes.  His calm and his poise make you forget he is just a lad in professional terms.  No situation has rocked his exterior and he makes almost every proper read and decision as the team continues to march down the field and put the ball in the end zone. 

Sunday may hold a new test for young Prescott that will be interesting to track.  This week the Cowboys play in Green Bay for the sixth time since 2008.  That was the year that Tony Romo became the only Dallas QB to ever win in that stadium over the course of the nearly six decades they have been playing each other.   
Since then, the Cowboys have visited Green Bay three times in the regular season  (the playoff visit has certainly been well-documented) and have scored seven points each time in three rather emphatic losses where Green Bay has averaged 30.  On only one occasion did the Cowboys have Tony Romo, and he'll obviously be missing this matchup, as well.   And in all three of those matchups, Dom Capers did pretty much the same thing he always does.
He brings pressure as much as nearly anyone on the schedule.  In a league where defenses range between roughly 20 and 40 percent in their regularity of bringing more than four pass rushers, the Cowboys have not faced this test yet. Thanks to the schedule, Prescott has been able to play his first five games against opponents that do not blitz at even the league average.  All of those opponents are not pressure defenses, and Washington, Chicago and Cincinnati are among those that are at the bottom of the league in pressure occasions, at or below 20 percent.  Green Bay is up over 40 percent.
Green Bay loves to play a high-risk version of defense in rushing mostly five and sometimes six to stress a quarterback.  Especially at Lambeau Field where the crowd can cause even more of an issue.  Since Capers was hired, no team in the NFL has more interceptions, and they also rank near the top in sacks. 
It does come with a price, though.  Like touching a hot stove, they have been burned by being vulnerable to big plays when the blitz pulls defenders out of safe places and leaves open field behind them.  The Cowboys will continue to use quick hitters to Cole Beasley and friends to try to expose that.  You may recall Romo hit them against the blitz a few times in that playoff game.  That is the only way to stop it.
In a week where everyone talks about the Packer run defense, I suspect the Cowboys will do quite well on the ground.  Green Bay's numbers are inflated because the early part of their schedule has included a majority of teams that don't threaten anyone running the ball.  But, quite possibly, the key to this matchup is how Prescott deals with his first taste of heavy blitzing when he wishes to pass. 
It is worth watching this closely to see if he jumps this hurdle as easily as all of the others.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Marinelli Report - Week 5 - Bengals

Hopefully, you have been reading my weekly reports for years and years.  If you have, you know all about some of my theories and findings that this many years have provided.  If not, let's get you caught up on one of the main truths about defense -- it plays in wildly different game situations that it often has very little to do with.  And when you ask it to play downhill versus uphill, it wildly affects its ability to help you win.
This is what is tricky about football sometimes.  We want to evaluate everything independently, but sometimes that is very difficult.  A defense needs an offense to hold the ball a bit, but far more importantly than the overrated time of possession obsession that so many people have, the defense needs the offense to score.  This may seem obvious, but sometimes when we talk about T.O.P. there are actually some people who wonder about the negative byproducts of scoring too fast.  Let me help you on that -- there are none.  
The main objective of any and every offense is to score.  Owning the ball is a theory that the defense will never have to take the field -- which is a theory that only works if you play in a make-it-take-it league.  Since none of those exist in the pro ranks, it is a faulty system.  Now, of course, if you can score and eat 10 minutes, great.  But, there is no real correlation between winning and time of possession.  It is a product of winning, not a driver of winning.  
But, there is correlation between that game situation for a defense.  Across the NFL, when a defense is ahead by 4+ points, the interception rate shoots up off the graph and the sack rate compounds over and over again.  In other words, defenses that are ahead do more of the fun things we all want to see.
Why?  There are a number of reasons.  One, the opposition stops running a balanced offense and simply starts passing more. It also gets aggressive and holds the ball in the pocket hoping for a play to open up out of desperation.  It forces the ball into coverage.  Meanwhile, the defense starts pinning its ears back and simply not caring about playing the run honestly.  It starts stunting and blitzing because there is blood in the water.  
By in large, sacks are found when you are ahead.  And since the Cowboys took a lead early against the Bengals, we saw this play out yet again on Sunday.  
To give you an example of how this might have something to do with what you think of the Cowboys defense, just know this: In 2014, the Cowboys defense played with a 4+ point lead on 49 percent of all snaps (483 snaps).  It was an insane amount of advantageous snaps.  In 2015, that number dropped off the face of the planet all the way down to 16 percent (159 snaps).  So far this year?  The defense has played in 206 snaps up 4+ points!  That is good for 63 percent!  
So that is good news and bad news.  The good news is that the Cowboys are always ahead!  The bad news is that even with this great advantage, they are still below league average in sacks and takeaways.  In other words, they have probably been ahead more than almost anyone (Minnesota would be the exception) and while some teams are up near 20 sacks, the Cowboys needed a huge night to get the season total to 10.  They are 17th in sacks and 22nd in takeaways, despite having everything tilted in their direction.
But, let's not worry about those ominous clouds.  Let's focus on the uptick that coincided nicely with the return of DeMarcus Lawrence.  Anytime the Cowboys get 4 sacks in a game, our film study demands we go in that direction.  
This is just the fourth time since the start of the Marinelli era (39 games now) when the team has achieved the 4-sack badge -- 2015 vs. New England, 2014 in London vs. Jacksonville and at Philadelphia.
Let's look at some of the damage:
You are going to see a lot of this is built around Anthony Brown blitzing today.   Here, the Bengals sniff out the slot blitzer, and move the right guard to pull out on a play-action look to get the edge guy which works well.  What doesn't work well is that the center 61-Bodine tries to deal with 92-Cedric Thornton and is just flat destroyed.  It looks like he got tripped, but Thornton arrives at Dalton in a hurry and this play never had a chance.  That was at 14-0.  The rest are when the game is in full-blowout mode.
This isn't a sack, but it is a play destroyed by pass rush.  Bootleg to get Dalton out in space, but 93-Benson Mayowa is showing outside linebacker wheels and motor to end this play pretty quick, too.  I thought it deserved some recognition today.  Wonderful power to knock the TE off the block and then great quicks to chase Dalton down.  Mayowa is a very useful piece on passing downs.
Rod Marinelli defenses employ a ton of teamwork in pass rushing.  He wants active bodies and he wants to use them in concert and tandems to free each other up.  It is difficult to say if this is an intended tackle-tackle game or whether it just organically occurred (to me it looks intentional), but Maliek Collins definitely  freed up Terrell McClain for a clear path at Dalton here.  You will see this a lot, so I am pretty sure they are taught to try to get home, but if you can't, obstruct or hip check someone else's guy to give him a win.  This is clearly something that doesn't show up in the box-score, but Maliek Collins deserves something for making this sack possible.  
Coverage sack here.  You can see nothing open so Dalton has to wait.  That, of course, makes this happen.  This is McClain and Jack Crawford (so underrated) who meet at the QB as he tries to escape the pocket.  This play shows the 4 rushers are just a pack of wild animals here.  Great effort levels and motor.  Like we said, they can smell blood now in the fourth quarter of a 28-0 rout.  
This sack didn't count because of a bit of a ticky-tack call on Justin Durant in the secondary.  But, watch 75-Ryan Davis work over the Aggie 70-Cedric Ogbuehi who offers the body posture of someone who knows they just did something very wrong.  Again, it didn't count, but you can see why Ryan Davis is worth having on this roster.
And then this final sack is just an example of what this defense is all about right now.  Full effort from everyone for 3 hours and that 97-Terrell McClain might be the best of the bunch at this.  His energy is so good.  I have been really impressed with him all season. What a great under-the-radar improvement to just get him healthy.  Mayowa gets this sack as again, you have multiple guys bearing down on the QB which makes life miserable for a guy trying to look downfield.  
This bonus GIF is from the second quarter on third down.  I just wanted you to see another rush where they are perfectly in concert and working together to cause problems.  Dalton did not get near the sticks, so this is a win -- getting off the field on third down.
Can they keep this up?  I like their chances if the score is going to continue to be in their favor so much.
A massive improvement on allowing explosives.  Just two is great.  Also, you will take 5.5 yards per play.  Again, so much garbage time influences a lot of numbers.
What a job by this team for taking AJ Green out of any sort of explosive day.  I think the corners have all played very well for five weeks.  Anthony Brown looks like a great sixth-round pick and Claiborne keeps making plays.  More importantly, you can see Claiborne get that swagger back.  It was long gone for quite a while.
And now the season totals for splash plays through 5 games show some unlikely leaders:
There is nothing to say after this defensive performance other than offer positive reviews and wonder if they have figured out how to make an anonymous defensive line work again.  Surely, this needs to be tested against the Packers, Eagles, and Steelers in the next month or so, but the pressure is coming and although the attempts per sack are still way too low (19.7 attempts per sack), Sunday was a big step forward.  
Green Bay wants to run to put less on a passing game that is just stuck in a low gear right now, but Eddie Lacy's availability and effectiveness are going to be called into question with what appears to be a high ankle sprain last Sunday against the Giants.  You won't believe this, but it seems like a great time to play Aaron Rodgers.  Their passing game is just not close to what it has been for years.  In other words, whatever the plan was against the Bengals in coverage, I suspect that will be pretty good this week.  However, the Packers' pass protection has been so good and Rodgers often gets forever to try to find receivers that don't seem open very often.  
But, that might depend on the game situation as well.  Which means we don't know how much of the plan was dependent on the Cowboys being up 14-0 before the Bengals touched the ball a second time.  And that is highly unrealistic to expect each week.  
This should be a very interesting test for this defense.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Decoding Linehan - Week 5 - Bengals

This is the type of post I absolutely love creating. I will be honest, as a writer, you want to be in the print edition of The Dallas Morning News. The blog does not get tossed onto everyone's porch in the morning and, although I realize times are changing, there is some intrigue to being a piece of the print world.
But, it is days like today where you see this could never be in a newspaper. This type of post is all about the pictures, not the words. Sure, I will provide some commentary here, but you need to see the videos to fully appreciate how the Cowboys outschemed the Bengals on Sunday. They used tactics to increase any sort of physical advantage and they did so by putting a lot of tape out there for the league to consume. This is the "seven days to Sunday" beauty of football. All week, teams study every detail and every frame of film to figure out what is going to happen at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bengals did their homework and the Cowboys used it against them. That is why you can have great faith in Scott Linehan and his offense. They are now winning before the game even starts with the way this offense is being coordinated. The players have to carry out the plan, but make no mistake -- the plan is beautiful.
Let's start with those two early touchdowns.
The first is just your basic zone-read give to Ezekiel Elliott:
You should watch that play once for each player on the offense. They are all doing a great job. It is a zone read, so look at Witten on Elliott's side. He will not block No. 96, Carlos Dunlap, by design. He will actually run a pass route (remember that). Dunlap will be unblocked and Dak will read him at the mesh point. If Dunlap takes the running back, the quarterback keeps. If he takes the quarterback, he gives to Zeke. Then Zeke follows the O-line that dominates again. Look at Martin, Frederick and Leary. I would say both guards get A-plus grades for their work here. This is so good. They both get their guy at the line and the linebacker behind him. Again, on most plays, Elliott must thank his lucky stars for the team drafted him.
OK, this is the next drive in nearly the same spot. The formation is flipped, but Witten is still on Elliott's side:
Did you see that? Witten left Dunlap (No. 96) again for a route to draw a safety with him. Dunlap reads the running back and crashes down on Zeke. Dak keeps and literally scores untouched.
Too easy, right? Block the front side, but the backside defensive end in a bind. And then he cannot be right. He can't get both. In fact, on these two plays, he can hardly make up his mind. And make no mistake, Carlos Dunlap is a great player. He finished fourth in sacks last year.
Now, let's move on to something else I think was pretty awesome from Sunday: the quarterback waggle play-action play they have been using all year. Since Dak was in diapers, this is a play they have shown every week -- often the very first play he runs.
It is my theory that this was one of the best ways to make Prescott comfortable under center. He was almost all shotgun in college, but they want to do more from under center in the NFL, where you can unleash a much more potent play-action game. But, to do so, you have to install some things that make his reads easy and his feet comfortable. That is why one of the first ideas was this play-action play that almost always goes right, but we have seen him go to the left a few times, too.
Let's show you:
Rams, preseason -- August 13.
Dolphins game, the following week in preseason -- August 19.
Week 1 against the Giants.
They keep running it over and over again. Well, Mr. Dunlap had enough on Sunday. He watched his film and he was about to end this nonsense the next time the Cowboys tried it:
He tries to end Prescott on this one. He was not falling for no banana in the tailpipe.
So, Mr. Linehan, what next?
Well, not only am I lucky enough to be your blogger, but I also get to talk with Jason Witten each Monday on the radio. I think these few minutes are worth your time:
He started by talking about those "dirty runs" out of this 12-personnel set against the Giants. I believe one of those is here:
Look at all the traffic. Too many bodies. Swaim can't clear a hole.
So, the next idea is to use the tight ends in 12 personnel to create a diversion. Link the passing threat to the running game. Then, almost like the zone read, you can make the defense pick their poison. And then you make them pick wrong.
So now here, once again as a "drive starter," is the play-action QB waggle. Except they don't pass it. They run off the pass look. Watch everyone sit on the tight ends. Witten even talks about drawing two players out to the flat. Now look at Zeke's path. Right where they were supposed to be.
End-zone view proves it even more:
That is so beautiful, it almost brings a tear to your eyes. And you are not going to catch Zeke from behind. Look at that nitro.
Bravo to Scott Linehan and his boys. This is a masterpiece of setting things up weeks in advance. We also talked about the setup of a Prescott keeper on the zone read. We also have been waiting for the deep shot off play-action. I assume Green Bay should prepare, because that is likely sitting in the bin, too.


I just can't get over how good their "average yards to go" on second and third downs are this year. Many people continue to wonder what Prescott would be like on third-and-long and we almost never get to see it because this Cowboys offense is constantly "ahead of the chains," and that means third-and-long is almost never happening. It is third-and-3 most of the time.
Truly remarkable stuff.


Efficient and accurate. He stays out of trouble and he makes proper decisions. I really am impressed at how this has worked without Dez Bryant. Also, lots of yards after the catch this week as they hit receivers in stride who racked up yardage on their own.


Early in the season, they were having trouble with 12 personnel, and now with a couple ideas thrown in, it has turned into a really productive grouping.
Meanwhile, 11 personnel has three different sub-categories -- 11 personnel under center, 11 personnel in shotgun and 11 personnel in shotgun with an empty backfield. Add them all up, and it totaled 31 snaps for 274 yards. That is almost nine yards per snap!
This is with your rookie backup quarterback, which is why I go back to the question of Romo over Dak. What exactly could you improve by changing quarterbacks right now? I realize Tony Romo is a far more accomplished quarterback and has put together a career Prescott could only hope to have, but seriously, what could this offense do better than they are doing right now without Dez Bryant by changing quarterbacks? This is a serious case of something not being broken.


The greatest hope at the bye week was likely a 4-2 record. Now they can go for 5-1. This offense is dynamic and devastating and they knocked out the Bengals within an hour Sunday. Green Bay will be another new challenge, but either way, they have already put themselves in a position where you now can start to see the math become favorable for postseason play. An absolutely remarkable start to the season from this offense.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Morning After - Cowboys 28, Bengals 14

This has all been so surprising this season.  I think you would have to begin in 2015 when we saw the true value of losing your long-time "QB1" to injury and what happens to an entire franchise when this happens. 
Actually, it doesn't always cripple a franchise.  It just always cripples this one, it seemed. 
During 2015, we would hear that one team can survive and another team can keep getting wins, but this team never does.  They have a special QB who does great things, but he has gone from sometimes-injured too often-injured in the span of just a few short years.  It happens.  The NFL takes a massive toll from these men's bodies over the course of a decade and it should not surprise anyone that Tony Romo's body has paid dearly.

But, for the fans of this franchise, all it did is put you in this hopeless conundrum of depending on a scenario where not only are you good enough, but now also you had to be lucky enough to play well all while avoiding the landmines of getting No. 9 hurt again.
Could you make it through a four-month season to get to a one-month playoff with a QB who might not survive too many hits?
No.  You couldn't even get past August 25.
Hope seemed lost right there.  They bet heavily on their hero, and their hero cannot take it anymore.  A hard lesson learned yet again.
Little did anyone know, they were about to go on a journey that would take them to first place on October 10 of the division that boasts the most wins in the entire NFL. 
In other words, don't waste your money, kids, trying to bet on what will happen in the National Football League.  Nobody knows what is next, and for certain, nobody has built a fortune predicting outcomes in this unpredictable league.
And sometimes, fortune seems to smile on you with some gifts from the football gods. 
Let's not be fooled.  I realize that GM Jerry Jones has been credited with the idea of taking Dak Prescott at pick No. 135, but I have never heard it explained how they had pick No. 101 at the start of that round and took Oklahoma DE Charles Tapper instead.  Sources have confirmed that pick No. 101 was earmarked for QB Connor Cook from Michigan State as the Cowboys wanted a young player behind Romo.  Oakland, however, decided they wanted him more and traded with Cleveland to get pick No. 100 and took the Spartan QB.  This left the Cowboys with a choice to take their next QB or go with a DE and they took Tapper.  That has always prevented me from being too full of praise on how things all happened.  Luckily for the future of the franchise, not one QB was taken in the next 34 picks.  Not one.  So, when pick No. 135 came around, Prescott was still available. 
It was either lucky or insane to take that risk.  Brilliant does not seem like a word that should come to mind.  Unless, that is, we are describing what we have seen in the first five weeks.

And, what we saw Sunday would clearly have to be considered brilliant.  This team put out its finest performance we have seen thus far in this Sunday in a showdown with one of the four franchises in the league that have been in each of the last five playoffs (Cincinnati, New England, Denver, and Green Bay).   The Bengals have a defense that is physical and doesn't get pushed around.  They don't give up 100-yard rushing days and they don't spend too much time getting humiliated.
Go ahead and cross all of those off the list.  For the Cowboys rookie duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Prescott have shown few signs that any of this is too big for them, and together they dismantled the Bengals in a destruction that felt over in about an hour.
The first drive was almost completely on the ground with the final 39 yards all coming on three consecutive handoffs to Elliott that sliced through this Bengals defense like a hot knife.  They ran a pulling play to the left for 17 yards and then a zone play to the same side for 9 more.  From the 13-yard line, a beautiful zone read give ate up the remainder in a touchdown that started the avalanche.  It was clear what the intent was from the offense.  Pound this physical defense and see if they can stand up to it.
The second drive was far more Prescott.  He is certainly part of a group that is not always asking him to make plays, but when they do, there is no reason to believe he is incapable.  The drive required an early third-down conversion that he whistled behind the linebackers to Terrance Williams for 16.  Two plays later it was a little rollout dart to Brice Butler for 13.  Zeke again was next for 15 with some pulling linemen clearing the way with authority.  Then, back to Dak for 21 yards on a seam pass to Williams another time for a first down and goal at the 4.  This was a pass down the field where his legs were being taken out at the release.  He stood in and made the throw well. 
But, the beautiful moment on this drive was the ensuing touchdown (which will clearly be a focus Tuesday in our Decoding Linehan piece).  They dialed up another zone read but did exactly what everyone has been calling for in the progression of unleashing a truly unstoppable offense.  That is, all of the different options on an option play.  In this case, the Bengals' front knows this is going to Elliott.  Their LDE, the feared Carlos Dunlap, knew that Elliott was getting the ball, and that is why he had him in a bear-hug behind the line of scrimmage.  The problem was that Prescott still had the ball and waltzed by the DE who was assigned to contain and into the endzone untouched.  It was offensive simplicity at its finest.  They must defend every scenario or you simply give it to the guy who isn't being accounted for.  In this case, a Prescott keeper was bringing the Bengals to their knees. 
Two drives, two touchdowns. 
This is where it gets a little silly.  As the Cowboys will each week, they gave Alfred Morris the third drive.  So, on this drive the offense gave Morris the ball plenty, and he moved the ball from the 20 all the way to the 48-yard line.  And that is where Dak Prescott and his weapons started going back to work.  Another touchdown might put this game away early, and that is exactly what happened next.
Seven yards to Butler against the blitz.  Then on third-and-3, Prescott duplicated what he did early to Williams.  On a third-and-short, the Bengals were sitting on Cole Beasley at the sticks (since that is what their scouting told them to do) and the Cowboys again showed the change-up when the Bengals were sitting fast ball and hit Witten on a crosser behind the linebackers again.  Prescott hit him 15 yards down the field and then Witten offered a fine stiff-arm and ran for 16 more in "YAC".  Very next play, Prescott rolls to his right after the play breaks down and Beasley mirrors him to the sideline, gets open, catches the ball short of the 5 and gets into the end zone with ease. 
The rout was on.  This showdown game was over in less than 60 minutes.  They would have stopped this fight. 
The last show of strength from the offense was further validation of the Elliott pick at No. 4, under the "you can't pass up on a guy who can do this" rule.  The Cowboys again used a change-up of the "drive starter QB rollout-waggle" play that Prescott has had called over and over again.  This time, it was all a fake and he gave to Elliott in the middle, showing how confused the Bengals were.  They chased Witten out into the flat, but Dak did not have the ball.  This allowed Elliott to cruise right down the middle of the field and by the time the Bengals realized what happened, hit turbo had kicked in and the play was over.  He was gone for the dagger.
The defense obviously played a role in this, because you hardly heard AJ Green's name and Andy Dalton appeared frustrated in his homecoming. 
But, again, you don't have to dig too deep on this one.  The two rookies keep doing what they have been doing and showed up in a "showdown" game with enough authority that they NFL has taken notice.  They won't sneak into Green Bay unannounced. 
The thing is, as good as this offense is right now, sneaking in doesn't seem very necessary.
I remember the old saying that the only person who could stop Michael Jordan in college was Dean Smith, his coach.  Nobody could defend MJ, but his coach used him carefully and in moderation.
Now, we wonder if the only thing that can slow down this train is the front office and coaching staff wanting to get Tony Romo right back into action when he is healthy enough after the bye week. 
In other words, is the only thing that can stop Dak and Zeke right now their own organization?
Sunday makes you wonder.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Gameplan - Give Elliott the Ball - In Moderation

The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the NFL. It is well balanced and dominating the flow of each game. Surely, this is the ceiling of expectations through the first month, regardless of which players have been available. The fact that it has been done without Tony Romo, however, is causing many to wonder if this is all a dream.
The offense has been led by a very talented offensive line, but the story that continues to dazzle the league is the rookie tandem at quarterback and running back: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. 
They are young and confident and represent the possibility of a new era of Cowboys football. And with that in mind, I do find one element worth tracking when it comes to Elliott:
Through four games, the Cowboys have given him the ball 100 times, with 94 of those touches on the ground. Ninety-four carries is a pace of 376 for the year. Given that they also throw him the ball and love to utilize him for pass protection, he is taking as much contact as any running back in football during the first month of his career. The NFL last season had one player with more than 300 carries. His name is Adrian Peterson, and he was given the ball on 327 occasions. The year before, DeMarco Murray had a distant lead on the entire league when the Cowboys called his number for 392 carries under the premise that they were likely not going to retain him, so who cared about his long-term durability? In the past decade, there have been no seasons of 400 carries and only two above 360 (Murray, and Michael Turner in 2008). To repeat, Elliott is on a pace for 376 as a rookie.

Basically, aside from Murray, the entire league has decided that this type of pace for a running back is not good for their investment's future. There is a limit to how much a running back should be asked to run full-speed into the jaws of a NFL defense, and most of the league has decided it is closer to 20 carries a game than it is to 25, let alone 30 -- 400 carries in a season is considered insanity in today's NFL.
Elliott looks like he can handle it when he gestures to the sideline, imploring them to continue feeding him. He has everyone believing he can take on any workload. And he can, for now. He believes he can destroy any defender and his body is healthy. But, this is the "before" picture to his NFL career. If you like his performances, the idea should now be to use him properly, so that you want to keep him after his contract expires at age 25. Not only that, he isn't used to 16-game seasons followed by a month of brutal playoffs (someday, hopefully).
Emmitt Smith seemed to have no limitations to his workload. The Cowboys tried to run him into the ground and he proved he was the exception to the rule. But you could argue the Cowboys never had anything approaching Alfred Morris behind Smith, and thus they did it by necessity. Now, the Cowboys have a No. 2 option behind Elliott who is a proven NFL starter. He is not the player Elliott is, and therefore giving him 10 carries a game that you might have given Zeke could be a tough decision as it's happening, but the alternative may very well be burning through Elliott's miles in his first five seasons, and then drafting his replacement.
It is a small issue for now, but the temptation to feed him 30 times in a game (like Dallas did against Chicago) must be a rarity. And as convincing as he might be when he says he can run all day, you need to prevent him from making that decision for himself.
Feed him in moderation. You will be happy about this when he still has tread at the end of seasons and is 27.