While he’s still held in high regard among NFL running backs, Elliott’s performance and efficiency have tapered off since 2018, after he led the league in rushing as a rookie (1,631 rushing yards) and logged a league-leading 1,434 rushing yards two years later.
“It’s almost like Zeke got his money and hit the running back wall all at the same time,” Bayless said. “I’m not saying he didn’t try. I’m not saying he didn’t work out. He just hit the wall. All of a sudden, he lost just a little bit of burst and a little bit of electricity and a little bit of ‘elusivity.’ I don’t know, maybe he just wasn’t quite as hungry as he was before once he got paid?
“Man, all of a sudden, he falls off to 85 yards a game, 65 two years ago, 59 last year. It’s a 50-yard drop over six seasons in yards per game — a 50-yard drop. Usually, I would attribute said demise to a career-threatening injury. It would usually be an ACL, could be an Achilles tendon, maybe a shoulder, but probably a knee or an Achilles. Would you believe that Zeke has had no major injuries?”
Dallas inked Elliott to a six-year, $90 million extension before the 2019 season. Across the last three seasons (2019-21), he has averaged 1,112.7 rushing yards (69.5 rushing yards per game) per year and 348.3 receiving yards (21.8 receiving yards per game) per year. For perspective, Elliott averaged 1,349.3 rushing yards (101.2 rushing yards per game) and 399.7 receiving yards (30.0 receiving yards per game) per season from 2016-18.
Elliott finished last season with 1,002 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on 4.2 yards per carry. Dallas went 12-5, winning the NFC East, but later lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC wild-card round.
Elliott is entering his seventh season in the NFL. The Cowboys selected him with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State.
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