Let’s start with the good news: the Dallas Cowboys have now endured half of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension.
But the bad news is, Dallas may not recover.
The Cowboys are now 0-3 without Elliott, and we’ve seen enough to realize that their offense is inept without the Pro Bowl running back.
Dallas lost its traditional Thanksgiving matinee, against the Los Angeles Chargers, 28-6, falling to 5-6 on the season and even farther behind the NFL East- and NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles, who are 9-1.
The playoffs might be too far out of reach by the time Elliott returns for the final two games of the regular season. Currently, the Atlanta Falcons hold the sixth and final NFC playoff spot. Dallas’ 5-6 record is 10th-best in the NFC.
The Cowboys have scored 22 points total without Elliott, who saw his suspension upheld and repealed a few times over the past couple of months since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced his punishment on Aug. 11. They were averaging 28.25 points per game over the first eight games of the season with Elliott.
Granted, Dallas was also without starting left tackle Tyron Smith for the first two games of Elliott’s suspension as he dealt with back and groin injuries. That was especially painful for quarterback Dak Prescott, who was sacked eight times against Atlanta in Week 10.
But Smith was back against the resurgent Chargers, who are now 5-6 after losing their first four games of the season. And it didn’t do much good.
Dallas didn’t get on the board until early in the fourth quarter, meaning it went a team-record 10 quarters and 154 offensive snaps between touchdowns; before Rod Smith’s rushing score, the last time the Cowboys got into the end zone was in the first quarter against Atlanta.
The Cowboys mustered just three field goals in last week’s loss to the Eagles.
Prescott threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for the game-sealing score, as Desmond King returned it 90 yards to put the Chargers up 28-6.
While coach Jason Garrett said after the game “everyone has a piece of it” when asked about his team’s offensive failures the past three games, Prescott would seemingly be having the hardest time without Elliott. He has thrown five interceptions and lost the ball three other times in that span.
After the loss, Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones said, “Absolutely not,” when asked if he’s considering a coaching change. As has been well-publicized at this point, Jones remains furious with Goodell for suspending Elliott, so it would seem unfair to blame Garrett.