According to legendary NFL head coach Bill Parcells, the Dallas Cowboys biggest problem isn’t at quarterback.
Parcells evaluated the 14 teams that qualified for the playoffs for The 33rd Team, and his comments on the Cowboys are among his most interesting. In his assessment, he revealed his belief that the Cowboys “don’t have the top, top-quality quarterback in Dak Prescott, but I do think he’s good enough to win with.”
The Super Bowl-winning coach said he likes what he sees from the team on defense, but the offense — particularly Kellen Moore’s play-calling — is hurting the team.
“Their overall offensive scheme has to be more balanced,” Parcells said, suggesting Dallas and Prescott would be better off taking the ball out of his hands more often and relying on the run game.
That could be an issue for the Cowboys next season, Parcells noted. Running back Tony Pollard is a free agent, and if he does come back, he will be returning from a broken leg he suffered in the team’s divisional round loss to San Francisco.
“I don’t know if he can hold up for too long physically,” Parcells said.
He was even less optimistic about the future of Ezekiel Elliott. He ended his assessment of the Cowboys by saying he thinks the former first-round draft pick “is near the end.”
Looking at some of the top running backs over the years, it’s hard to find fault in his logic. Running backs are notorious for having short careers. The workload and punishment they take isn’t conducive to a long career.
Star running backs this century including Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jamaal Charles and Reggie Bush all experienced precipitous drops in production after years of success. Alexander, Charles and Bush all had their final 1,000-yard season when they were 28 and Tomlinson was 29 when he had his last 1,000-yard season.
Elliott turns 28 before the start of the 2023 season, and may already have arrived at the cliff.
He had his fewest rushing yards (876) of his career in 2022 despite starting four more games this year than he did in 2017. Elliott also averaged his fewest rushing yards per game (58.4 yards) and yards per attempt (3.8 yards).
Over his last six games (including the postseason), Elliott has 82 carries for 213 yards (2.6 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns. He added six receptions for 35 yards.
Parcells last coached in the NFL in Dallas from 2003-06 but he’s still plugged into what’s happening around the league.
As much as Cowboys fans want to run head coach Mike McCarthy out of town, perhaps owner Jerry Jones can call up Parcells and see what his plans for 2023 are. If nothing else, Parcells can tell him how much his team stinks.