It’s got to be feeding time.
Consider this intro a bonus to the five things to watch. It’s a prediction for the Dallas Cowboys’ game against the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field at 3:25 p.m. Sunday.
Ezekiel Elliott will run the ball more than 20 times for the first time in 2018 and he’ll break the 100-yard mark for the first time since the 2017 finale in Philadelphia. After two weeks, Elliott has 32 total rushes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. In 2016, he averaged 108.7 yards on 21.5 carries a game. In the fourth quarter against the Giants, Elliott reminded the Cowboys of what he can do the more he touches the ball deeper in a game. His 19-yard run on the game-clinching scoring drive was his longest of the night. Elliott, of course, said he’s fine with the amount of action he’s seeing so far. And the Cowboys are trying to use him in other ways. Dak Prescott has targeted him for 10 passes, including five against the Giants.
But if the Cowboys are going to do anything this season, Elliott needs to be the focal point of the offense and that starts with hand offs.
“He can do everything. He’s got great versatility, he can run with power, he runs with speed,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He can catch the ball real well. He’s a very good competitor. He can block really well. He’s just a complete football player.”
Zeke is hungry. Feed Zeke.
Five things to watch this Sunday when the Cowboys take on the Seahawks:
1. Cowboys defensive additions
How many sacks will the Cowboys’ defense tally in Week 3? Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 12 times already but he still has his elusive mobility. The addition of defensive end Randy Gregory should only help the defensive line, which has six of the Cowboys’ nine sacks. Safety Xavier Woods is also expected to be available for the first time this season but it’s unclear how much he’ll play.
2. Tavon Austin’s time
We got a sneak peek at what Tavon Austin can do in space with his 64-yard touchdown catch on the third play Sunday night. More of that, please. He was only targeted one more time the rest of the game. Now, Brice Butler could be in the mix. It’s very unlikely that Dallas will have seven active receivers against the Seattle and Cole Beasley was limited during Friday’s practice so perhaps Butler will take his spot. Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Austin was an option for Prescott on multiple plays.
“He’s not playing every play either. We threw the ball 25 times. I think we had every receiver get a catch,” Linehan said. “We’ll have days where he’ll or somebody else will have more targets than that. It’s just how that particular game went.”
3. Russell Wilson’s struggles
Wilson is sort of the last man standing for the Seahawks who were one of the best teams in the league three years ago when they went to consecutive Super Bowls. Of course, there are other players that remain from the 2013 title team, but Wilson and receiver Doug Baldwin are the only starters still around on offense. It isn’t a pretty scene for Wilson at the moment. He has three interceptions (and been sacked 12 times) and his 89.3 quarterback rating is the lowest of his career.
4. Dak’s origin story
Dak Prescott took over for an injured Tony Romo early in a preseason game in August 2016 at Seattle’s Century Link Field. Prescott has started every game since. Romo retired and Prescott was given the key to the Cowboys’ kingdom. At the moment he replaced Romo, Prescott didn’t figure Romo was done for the year (or his career), but he stepped in and had a magnificent rookie season. Things are different now, of course. Him filling in and leading the team to wins is not just gravy, but the expected main course. This is the kind of game the Cowboys (if they have any real dreams of winning this season) can’t squander, as they did a year ago at home to the same Seahawks. Prescott has to make sure that doesn’t happen.
5. His Name is Earl
Remember, Earl Thomas? The Texas native, former Longhorn and 10-year NFL veteran safety who told the Cowboys to “come get me” after Seattle beat Dallas on Christmas Eve last season. He’s still with the Seahawks and he’s still making plays. He already has an interception, two passes defended and seven tackles. Perhaps that long-rumored move will be made and he’ll fly back with Dallas after the game.