FRISCO, Texas – 2020 hasn't been the season the Cowboys expected, and for Ezekiel Elliott, 2020 hasn't featured the type of production he's accustomed to at the running back position.
But Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes Elliott's best football is yet to come this season.
It's been a popular storyline this week as the Cowboys enter the final stretch of the regular season: Elliott has yet to reach the 100-yard rushing mark in seven games. He currently has 572 yards, placing him 11th in the league. While still on pace for 1,000 yards, he's averaging below four yards per carry (3.8) for the first time in his career. He also has a career-high three lost fumbles.
Friday, Jones cautioned not to read too much into the stats.
"You say, well, numbers don't sell anything short, but I think you're selling him short," Jones told 105.3 The Fan. "Certainly early, when we were full-blown (healthy) on offense, he was making some things happen. He got those turnovers early that put a lot of focus on what he was doing. But still, I know the impact he has on opposing defenses. I know what I see him do relative to the type of thing he brings to football: his physicalness, his enthusiasm.
"He's our best football player. He's our best one. And having said that, we've just got to have more chances to expose him to the defense. And we're going to do that. … In my mind, he's our best player."
Explaining Elliott's season does require a deeper look beyond statistics. Four of the Cowboys' five offensive line starters have missed games, including season-ending injuries to tackles Tyron Smith and La'el Collins. The Cowboys have been playing from behind in most games due in part to turnovers. Elliott is on pace for 267 carries, easily the lowest total of his career with the exception of 2017 when he missed six games due to NFL suspension.
Elliott played through a hamstring injury in the Cowboys' pre-bye-week loss to Pittsburgh. With a couple weeks to rest up, he's feeling better physically. And as Jones said, the Cowboys need him involved down the stretch, starting with Sunday's road game at Minnesota.
Elliott has been critical of his own play at times this season, particularly the fumbles that have led to opposing points. But his focus, as always, is on the team first.
"My frustration is that we're 2-7, not that I haven't had a 100-yard game," he said Wednesday. "We're just trying to come together as a team and find a way to win a football game."