2017 was something of a lost year for the Dallas Cowboys and that also goes for Ezekiel Elliott. In the ten games Elliott played, he was a very effective player, rushing for 983 yards and seven touchdowns, but there was a stark difference between his production level in 2017 and that of his transcendent rookie season in 2016.
To that end, Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones spoke with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Elliott and indicated that things that the Cowboys “call distractions” could stand in the way of his ultimate ceiling.
“I know Zeke wants to be great — I’m convinced of that, that he wants to be great. He’s also got to understand that, to be great, you can’t have these things that we call distractions and things of that nature. Things that take away, not only from him, but from our team. … Obviously, right up through the start of last season, there were things that were popping up. We haven’t seen that as of late and hopefully that’s a good indicator that he understands.”
Obviously, Elliott’s suspension (and lengthy court battle) would seemingly fall into the distraction category, along with a variety of off-field issues since he arrived in the NFL. It is certainly up for debate as to just how likely it is that Elliott can stay on the right path but, as Jones notes, he is a tremendous on-field player and removing the noise would be a great way for the Cowboys to extract maximum value from his talents.
There is certainly a greater discussion to be had about Elliott’s non-football issues but, in this case, a Cowboys executive describes them as “distractions” and eliminating them seems to be the desire of the franchise.