FRISCO, Texas – Whether with his play on the field or his words off it, Ezekiel Elliott has done plenty to set the tone during this four-game win streak.
From the time the Cowboys began digging out of that 3-5 hole, it was their star running back enforcing the idea that they had their backs against the wall. Obviously, his 667 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns have gone a long way toward winning four-consecutive games, as well.
It has been impressive to watch. And, as has been said many times this week, Elliott said the Cowboys can't afford to change their mindset despite sitting atop the standings heading into this weekend's game against the Eagles.
"Honestly, we're in the same position that we were when we were 3-5," Elliott said Wednesday. "We need to go out here and win the rest of these ball games so we can have a chance to make a run in this playoff. It's just having that same mentality."
It's one thing to hear those types of refrains from Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, or even Dak Prescott. One of the most striking storylines this season has been Elliott's own evolution as a leader, as he has become one of the emotional lynch pins of this roster.
Elliott has stated on numerous occasions that he prefers to let his play do the talking, but that has changed in 2018. Whether he's setting the tone, picking up his teammates or leading the Cowboys' pregame huddle, he's been more visible than ever this season.
"I love trying to get these guys going, trying to motivate them," Elliott said. "I love trying to get them ready for games. It's fun, it's something I've embraced."
Strange as it might sound, that's due in part to the youth of this Cowboys roster. Elliott is only 23 years old, but he's also a three-year NFL veteran with a Pro Bowl under his belt.
That carries a lot of weight on the third-youngest roster in the league. Not to mention, the departure of veteran voices like Jason Witten and Dez Bryant created a void that needed to be filled.
"I wouldn't say it makes it easier, I just think it makes you have to," Elliott said. "Because, why would I give the pregame speech if Witt's going to give it, you know what I mean? So I just think it kind of forced me."
Now is no time to let up if the Cowboys are going to accomplish their goals– not just against Philadelphia, but for the rest of December. Judging from his demeanor, Elliott doesn't intend to do that.
"All of these have a lot on the line, but it's fun. Division game, big rival – it means a lot," he said. "So I mean, we've got to come out there and make sure we're ready and go out there and do our jobs."