Zeke and Amari. Amari and Zeke.
The Dallas Cowboys offense needed a Yin to go with its Yang and they’ve got it.
Who’s helping who more is one of those fun football questions (when you’re winning) but one thing is certain: Running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Amari Cooper are helping each other and the Cowboys’ offense is much better for it.
The Cowboys (6-5) have won three consecutive games and are 3-1 since Amari Cooper was acquired via trade. Their toughest test of the season looms when they host the New Orleans Saints (10-1) at 7:20 p.m. Thursday at AT&T Stadium.
Elliott is going for his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game. He did that last as a rookie in October 2016. In terms of total yards from scrimmage, the 531 yards (394 rushing, 137 receiving) is the best three-game stretch of Elliott’s career.
“When you have such a dominant guy back there in the backfield teams are going to game plan for that and they really want to stop that rushing attack,” said Cooper, who has 349 yards and three touchdowns on 22 receptions since joining Dallas. “One of the ways to do that is to stack the box. But when you have somebody out wide who can make plays it prevents them from doing that. That’s how we play off of each other.”
Saints’ coach Sean Payton said it’s obvious Cooper has helped open up the Cowboys’ offense.
“He gives them a threat down the field. He’s obviously an accomplished receiver and a great addition,” said Payton, whose Saints are tied with the Rams with the best record in the league. “I think Dak [Prescott] is playing well. Of course, Ezekiel has been outstanding.”
The offensive line is playing better, too. Whether it’s the addition of left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo playing in place of rookie Connor Williams or new o-line coach Marc Colombo, but the specific reason remains elusive.
“I think it’s a combination of everything. We’re playing better as an offense. We’re executing better,” Right guard Zack Martin said. “Zeke has run extremely well all year. I think it’s just a combination of our offense just playing well together and kind of opening up things as an offense as whole.”
Both Elliott and Cooper, of course, have helped Prescott. So add perhaps a Yuan to the Yin and Yang.
“Amari’s just a quarterback-friendly guy. I think all quarterbacks would like to throw the ball to him,” Cowboys’ coach Jason Garrett said. “He gets open a lot in man to man. He’s got a good feel in zone. He presents himself well and then he makes the play at the other end. I think Dak would be the first guy to tell you that.”
Ezekiel Elliott has put together the best three-game stretch of his career, compiling 531 total yards from scrimmage during the Cowboys’ win streak: