Ezekiel Elliott knows the best players always have room for improvement.
In his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys, despite sitting out in the final week of the regular season and getting hardly any touches in Week 16, Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards on 322 carries while collecting an average of 108.7 yards a game. An All-Pro in his first year, Zeke led the league in 20-plus yard runs while tying for second in 40-plus yard runs (3). His 15 trips to the end zone put him in third place behind only LeGarrette Blount (18) and David Johnson (16).
Although Elliott accomplished a lot in his first season in the NFL, he knows he can elevate his game in Year 2.
“I just want to work on being a more dominant, second-level runner,” Elliott said Monday at a charity home run derby, via the Cowboys’ official website. “I think a couple of times last year I could’ve been more elusive when I got to the second level. I just want to focus on altering my runs.”
Elliott’s analysis of himself shows he understands the main argument critics would make against him during his magical rookie campaign: The idea that any running back in the NFL could become a dominant player behind the Cowboys’ offensive line.
But let’s not try to act like Zeke couldn’t deliver on the second level. 938 of the yards he racked up in 2016 were yards he gained after contact, which is 57.7 percent of his yardage altogether, per Pro Football Focus. He also averaged 2.9 yards per carry after being hit by at least one opposing defender.
While it may be true that Zeke got to the second level untouched more than any other running back last season due to having the best offensive line in football pave the way for him, Elliott’s vision, cutting ability, burst, speed, and power helped him make the most out of those blocks.
Zeke believes he can be even better than he was in 2016, which is bad news for any team scheduled to face Dallas in 2017.