FRISCO, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott has no problem with the number of carries he's gotten through the first three games.
He knows the Cowboys (1-2) want to feed their star running back early and often. That's been the offense's foundation since he arrived two years ago as the No. 4 overall pick.
But he also understands the flow of the game, particularly in their two road losses, can prevent that type of balanced offense. To date, Elliott has 48 rush attempts – an average of 16 carries per game – for 274 yards, tied with San Francisco's Matt Breida for the NFL lead. He also ranks second on the team in catches (11 for 37 yards).
"I would love to see it more, but I just think (it's) the nature of the games we've played in these first three games," Elliott said. "We've been down. We've been having to try to come back. It's hard to come back and try to run the ball."
The Cowboys ran only 58 and 57 plays in their losses to Seattle and Carolina, respectively. In both games, they trailed by at least 16 points in the second half and never held a lead.
In Dallas' Week 2 win over the Giants, the offense had only 50 plays, but that included a 14-play, 82-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that sealed the 20-13 victory. On that drive, Elliott got five of his 17 total carries against the Giants.
The Cowboys built an early 10-0 lead in that game and were able to milk the clock late – a staple of the 2016 team that won 13 games.
Elliott says there's plenty of confidence that the entire group, himself included, can be more efficient. Against Seattle, he blamed himself for miscues (a drop, a fumble and an illegal touching penalty) that left points on the board.
"We have to go out there and execute better as an offense," he said. "We can't have our defense on the field the majority of those first halves. That's what's been happening in the games when we haven't been doing well on offense.
"We've got to come out there, get a fast start, execute, get some momentum and carry that through the game."