Elliot had just 51 yards in that season's opener. He ran for 83 yards in Week 2 but fumbled twice and was pulled in favor of Morris to close out the game.
In his third game, Elliott ran 30 times for 140 yards in a Cowboys win. That started a four-game streak in which he had at least 134 yards rushing each time.
Nobody is calling for Morris to take some of the load off Elliott after two games this season, but the Cowboys running back is facing questions, mostly about his effort on two interceptions, but also for picking up just 8 yards on nine carries last week against the Denver Broncos.
Add to that the pending legal issues that could prevent Elliott from playing in six games at some point this season or next, and the attention on him has been greatly enhanced. As Elliott stood in front of his locker Wednesday, he answered no fewer than six questions about lack of effort.
Dak Prescott did not face questions his rookie year until back-to-back subpar games in December, in which the offense scored just 22 points and he had two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
As the Cowboys get ready to play the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night, it's almost as if the goodwill Elliott and Prescott generated over their rookie seasons, which helped the Cowboys finish 13-3 and earned them Pro Bowl appearances, is forgotten -- at least from outside The Star and by a certain segment of the fandom.
“We’re a very strong team. I think we respond well with adversity,” Elliott said. “We’ve had bad weeks offensively before. You’ve got to take that on the chin. You’ve got to get back in here and you’ve got to get to work, focus on the next weekend, making sure we don’t go out there and perform like that again. We’ve got to get started early and make sure we execute throughout the game.”
A prevailing theory from the 42-17 loss to Denver is that the Broncos offered up a blueprint to stop the Cowboys. Arizona coach Bruce Arians debunked that theory, unless “you can borrow Denver’s players.”
Prescott doesn’t believe a blueprint has been devised.
“I don’t buy into that. I think we just didn’t play our game and we didn’t execute the way that we should or we normally do,” he said. “I kind of encourage teams and hope teams give us that same scheme and those same matchups. I’m not buying it.”
Neither was Elliott.
“I mean, every week people stack up against our offense,” Elliott said. “It’s not something we’ve seen for the first time. It may have been the first time that it’s worked that successfully, but teams do that every week. So I don’t think there’s any blueprint to stopping us. I think it all comes down to how we go out there and execute.”
The Cowboys are built to succeed through their running game. It makes Prescott’s life easier. It makes the defense’s job easier. For the first time as a pro, Elliott was stopped, which led to the frustration in not chasing down the interceptions.
Elliott admitted he was wrong, but Prescott said the running back had a positive attitude Thursday.
“He’s Zeke,” Prescott said. “That’s another guy that, no matter win or loss, really doesn’t change. He keeps the same mindset, the same attitude, the same demeanor and body language. Just comes to work every day.”
As Prescott spoke in front of his locker Thursday, he was purposefully confident. He has to be that way. The offense feeds off him. It’s why he was voted one of the captains by his teammates.
“He’s been the same as always, a guy who comes to work and works hard,” Elliott said. “I mean, nothing really needs to change. He’s a great worker and a great leader, so, I mean, he’s been the same.”
The Cowboys are five days removed from the Denver loss. To steal a Bill Belichick-ism, they are on to Arizona.
“It was one day, and it was a bad day for us,” Prescott said. “We know that, and we all addressed that, accepted that and take responsibility. I’m excited for these guys to come back because I know how confident we all will be, and how we were at practice, and how we will be for the rest of the week going into that game Monday.”