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FutureStarrWhat Happened to Ezekiel Elliott?
For years now, the Dallas Cowboys star running back has been under intense scrutiny due to an incident that didn't appear in a police report and then led to his six-game suspension for domestic violence.
Elliott's future with the Cowboys depends on whether he can learn from his mistakes and continue playing at an elite level.
What happened to Ezekiel Elliott during the 2017 season is something few will likely forget quickly. He was suspended for six games after being accused of domestic violence, leaving many wondering what his future holds.
The NFL had promised to take action against domestic violence, and has taken numerous steps in that direction. They've released ads with the message, "No More," as well as enacted a new personal conduct policy.
Domestic violence remains a serious problem in the NFL, despite their efforts. This suspension comes as no surprise and shows they are serious about combatting this problem and doing everything possible to help prevent future incidents from taking place.
On February 12th, 2016, Elliott was accused of pushing a woman against the wall at his Florida home. On that same day, the NFL declared they would investigate the incident under their personal conduct policy.
Though the investigation into Elliott's case was ongoing, the Cowboys were confident in their star player's innocence. Jerry Jones, the team owner, has stated that he feels "comfortable" with Elliott's account of what occurred and will continue to support him.
In June, the NFL hired medical and legal experts to review the evidence and determine if it was reliable enough to prove Elliott had violated their personal conduct policy. They conducted interviews and examined text messages as part of their review process.
After reviewing all evidence, Goodell determined there was sufficient proof to support Elliott's violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy. The league cited several witnesses who could verify that Elliott had physically hurt the woman.
He also noted that there was insufficient evidence to prove the accuser made false statements. This was especially true since there was no video footage of the incident and police couldn't locate who made those allegations.
Once the investigation was concluded, Goodell issued a six-game suspension to Elliott - marking the first time in NFL history that an individual had been banned for such an extended period. This major decision helped cement the league's reputation as a trustworthy institution.
Ezekiel Elliott was a force in the NFL for most of his career, winning two rushing titles and leading the league in yards per game both years. But recently his production has declined significantly; therefore he's looking to secure his long-term future before this season is out.
In 2018, the Dallas Cowboys suspended Ezekiel Elliott for six games following an investigation into domestic violence allegations. While his suspension was initially put on hold, Elliott appealed the decision and it ultimately stood.
After a slow start to the year, Elliott found his form in the second half and started playing like the star running back he once was. During the first 16 games of 2021 season, Elliott rushed for 754 yards and received 341 receiving yards - an impressive feat considering his ankle injury suffered in Week 1.
He was also given more opportunities as a pass-catcher than ever since his rookie year, hoping this would enable him to be as dynamic in the passing game and rival New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell, who remains among the league's best when catching passes out of the backfield.
This strategy could prove successful for the Cowboys this season. It helps quarterback Dak Prescott regain his confidence and boost the offense of the team.
But to maximize his potential, the coaching staff must properly utilize him. This may necessitate extra effort on their part.
In addition to the coaching staff, he needs the running backs to utilize him more as a receiver out of the backfield. Doing so will give him more chances from the offensive line and enhance his game in general.
If Elliott can accomplish this, then the Cowboys may start to recognize Elliott's true potential again. He may not be quite the same player that he was during his prime, but he is still one of the most talented runners in football.
It's essential to note that Tony Pollard has emerged as the backup runner for the Cowboys this year and has been having an outstanding campaign. If he continues his impressive form, then they can return to using Elliott as their primary run-catching threat and use his elusiveness to force missed tackles and add another weapon to their passing game.
Although two-time NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott didn't have a great year, he did make some improvements for the Cowboys. Despite 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns, his performance ranked below average across every major stat. He set career lows in rushing first downs, yards per game, explosive runs, rushing after contact per attempt and route run rate.
Elliott managed only 4.2 yards per carry on the ground, which is disappointing given his impressive explosiveness. Not so long ago, he was averaging 5.9 or even 6.4 yards per carry.
It's worth noting that Elliott was only averaging 16.7 touches per game last season, meaning he wasn't getting a ton of opportunities to run. Indeed, the Cowboys had already reduced his workload before the knee injury occurred.
After his injury, Elliott took time to get back to normal. His speed and agility weren't quite what they used to when he led the NFL in rushing in 2016 and 2018.
However, Elliott is still only 26 years old. That youth should enable him to rebound in 2022 and once again establish himself as a top running back in fantasy football.
But if Elliott continues his downward spiral, his $18 million salary cap hit next season will become increasingly unjustified. That's why it is critical to watch how Elliott performs in 2022.
One of the biggest unknowns for Elliott in 2022 is how he will manage his carries. With Tony Pollard potentially joining him, there may only be room for Elliott to play a limited role.
He may still be a great player, but it's difficult to envision him producing impressive numbers when Pollard is on the field. That is why it will be important to see how Pollard performs in 2022 and whether or not he can maintain his spot on the roster.
If he can rebound and put up impressive numbers, he could become an invaluable part of the Cowboys offense. That would be a tremendous boost to their playoff prospects and could even propel them towards victory. On the other hand, if he is unable to do this, then it appears likely he'll depart before his contract is up.
Drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott quickly earned himself a reputation for being one of football's most dynamic running backs. A two-time rushing champion and master playmaker from day one, Elliott made an impact on every play he made throughout his career.
However, his production began to decline in the 2021 season. He had his lowest rushing yards ever and both yards per carry average and big run rate decreased significantly. No longer a bell cow back, he was now dealing with persistent injuries.
He was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season and did not return to play until Week 16. This suspension occurred because he violated the league's personal conduct policy.
Elliott appealed the suspension, which was ultimately upheld. This did not seem to impact his performance during the 2022 season as he still managed to log 876 yards on 231 attempts and score 12 touchdowns despite missing time due to suspension.
His statistics have steadily improved over the last three seasons, as he now boasts over 1,000 yards rushing in each of those seasons. Furthermore, he is much better at short yardage situations, averaging eight of nine (88.9%) on first downs when on third and short, and converting eight of 13 attempts.
Elliott has made improvements, but there is still work to do if he wants to become the premier running back of the future. To achieve this goal, Elliott must increase his efficiency and receive more touches on the field.
He must ensure his health remains a top priority. After all, he suffered a torn PCL in 2021 and missed several games this season due to a knee injury.
In 2022, Elliott rushed for 876 yards on 231 carries and his 3.8 yards per carry average was a career low. Additionally, he caught 17 of 23 targets for 92 yards at an average of 4.3 yards per reception. Furthermore, Elliott caught a touchdown pass against Indianapolis to give himself some momentum going forward.