Dak Prescott has a suggestion to make the New England Patriots offense more effective.
The Cowboys quarterback played with Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas for seven seasons. They were both drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 and enjoyed plenty of success together, so Prescott definitely knows what the veteran running back is capable of giving his new team.
After the Cowboys completely dismantled the Patriots in a 38-3 win Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium, Prescott reflected on Elliott's tenure in Dallas and their relationship. His last sentence was particularly interesting.
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"I did see him last night, talked to him after the game," Prescott said in his postgame press conference. "Didn't see him pregame. I'm sure he liked the tribute. I loved the tribute. Thought it was pretty cool. But yeah, we'll connect. We'll talk. As I told you, our relationship is much bigger than this game of football and especially just this one game of him coming back.
"But yeah, pretty cool of Jerry (Jones) and the Cowboys playing that video for him. Giving him the respect, the honor that he deserves. Great seven years here. I wouldn't be the player that I am without him, wouldn't have the success that we had over these seven years without that guy. So yeah, thankful for him. They need to play him more, but, hey, who am I?"
Play him more?
That's an interesting suggestion, and one that the Patriots reportedly had in mind before Sunday's Week 4 matchup. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Elliott would get "starter reps" against the Cowboys.
“My understanding is his role is expected to increase today against his former team,” Rapoport said. “They know, in this building, how much this game means to him. I’m told he’s expected to get starter reps at running back. Will he actually start? That depends on the play.”
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The game got away from the Patriots pretty early. They trailed 18-3 after quarterback Mac Jones' pick-6 in the second quarter. From that point on, it was going to be difficult to establish the ground game. Elliott finished with just 16 yards on six carries. Rhamondre Stevenson led the Patriots in rushing with just 30 yards on 14 carries.
Stevenson had a career-year in 2022, but this season has been a struggle for him. He has tallied just 164 rushing yards in four games. His 2.6 yards per carry so far in 2023 is down significantly from his five yards per attempt last season. The Patriots need to get Stevenson going. He is their best all-around running back, especially with his ability to be a threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
But if Stevenson isn't able to get back on track, giving Elliott a higher workload makes sense. The Patriots have to run the football a lot better. They rank 28th in yards per carry entering Week 5, averaging almost a full yard less (4.3 to 3.4) than last season.
New England's passing attack isn't good enough to carry the offense. The run game has to be effective and consistent. If that doesn't happen, it's going to be difficult for the Patriots to keep up with all of the high-scoring offenses they'll face the rest of the season.