Ezekiel Elliott is already pretty close to locking up the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
There hasn’t been so much as a whisper, however, about the Cowboys running back winning the NFL MVP. And the reasons why are clear. That honor typically goes to the league’s best quarterback, and has 32 out of the 49 years since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
While there have been 13 running backs that have won it, it’s taken them Herculean efforts to do so. Like O.J. Simpson going over 2,000 yards in 1970, or Barry Sanders doing it 1970, Terrell Davis in 1998, and Adrian Peterson in 2012. And two other running backs also had to have record-setting seasons to win it—Shaun Alexander, who scored 28 rushing touchdowns in 2005, and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 31 touchdowns in 2006.
With eight games left on the schedule, Elliott could get close. He’s on pace to rack up around 1,782 yards for the season, which would leave him just short of Eric Dickerson’s 1983 rookie record of 1,808 yards. But with Matt Ryan and Tom Brady also playing lights out, Elliott would likely need to do something otherworldly, like go over 2,000 yards, to win it.
And with six of the eight teams Dallas will face over the last half of the season fielding rushing defenses in the top two-thirds of the league, that’s a mighty tall order to fill.