Will the Jaguars Stop Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys on Sunday?
By David Levin
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a huge task of stopping Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys running game on Sunday afternoon.
Oh, how things could have been different. The 2016 NFL Draft could have taken a different turn. The Jacksonville Jaguars could have missed out on Jalen Ramsey and been left with a big decision to make. How things played out three years ago helped shape both this franchise and the Dallas Cowboys. Now, Ramsey and the defense must stop Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas ground game.
It’s a situation where arguably the best running back in the NFL faces one of the best defenses in the league and arguably the best cornerback in the league. It’s not necessarily a one-on-one matchup, but the importance of both players on both teams is magnified by their presence on the field.
Ramsey, in talking to the media on Thursday, said the situation has been a success for both he and Elliott and their respective teams.
"“I would say it has worked well for me, being here in Jacksonville with this team,” Ramsey said. “I would say it has worked out well for him as well. He has been producing since he has been there.”"
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The Jaguars could have easily walked into AT&T Stadium on Friday looking across the line at Ramsey. When the Cowboys were on the clock with the fourth pick in the 2016 Draft, they could have easily grabbed the former FSU star. The Jaguars immediately ran their pick to NFL officials to make the selection.
As a side note here, Ramsey was officially listed as questionable for the game on Sunday by the Jaguars coaching staff with a knee injury. He practiced in a limited capacity on both Thursday and Friday.
"“It’s 50-50,” Head Coach Doug Marrone said on Friday when he met with the media following practice. “We’re just going to monitor the situation as it goes…“If something happens there, we probably would have to make a move. We would be down a bunch of corners.”"
Playing without Ramsey is something the Jaguars do not want to have to deal with playing on the road against a team that has not had success with their passing game this season.
My fellow FanSided colleague Rucker Haringey agrees this will be a tough task for Elliott as he faces a much-improved run defense from last season. Elliott has amassed 480 yards on the ground this season through five games, but the Jaguars are waiting for him to meet them at the line of scrimmage.
"“The Jaguars are a nightmare opponent for the Cowboys. Dallas struggles to move the ball against average defenses. Jacksonville has an exceptional unit. That means Ezekiel Elliott will need to be Superman to earn his team a much-need victory,” he wrote."
While the Kansas City Chiefs looked like a juggernaut against the Jaguars last week in a 30-14 win, they only scored two touchdowns against the defense. Jacksonville intercepted Patrick Mahomes twice. The offense sputtered and did not score in the red zone when it had opportunities.
This week, the Jaguars must score when they have a chance.
They also must stop the Dallas running game, which could also include quarterback Dak Prescott.
"“Today’s NFL requires an offense to be able to throw the ball effectively. Dak Prescott may or may not be a good quarterback, but there’s no debate he lacks talent at the wide receiver position.” Haringey explains.“[Jalen] Ramsey shuts down Pro Bowl wide receivers on a regular basis. He isn’t going to break a sweat covering the likes of Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns.”"
So it appears to be “Elliott or Bust” for the Cowboys. On paper, it also appears to be a no-brainer this defense should be able to handle the opponent’s anemic offense.
Essentially, stop Elliott and you stop Dallas. It’s a formula that can work and should work.
The question is will it work and lead to the win for the visiting team?