NFC Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Lions

     

Cowboys

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott was struggling along with the rest of the team for most of the season. But Elliott had a breakout game in 2020 that coincided with Dallas winning its first game in weeks as he topped 100 yards rushing against the Vikings. Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones thinks Elliott has more in him as the season proceeds, particularly when it comes to explosive plays. 

“I think he does,” Jones said via the Dallas Morning News. “I think it’s just a matter of him getting in the right situations at the right time. Obviously, we went through a tough stretch there where we were figuring out our quarterback situation, figuring out our offensive line situation, and I think that made it more difficult. But I do think Zeke still has it, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s going to reel off some big ones, as well. He’s been real close a couple of times, and I do think it’s just a matter of time before he puts up some big runs.”

  • Per the Athletic’s Jon Machota, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke about the condition of strength coach Markus Paul, who had to be hospitalized after a medical emergency Tuesday morning: “He’s one of the most loved people we have with the Dallas Cowboys. He touches everybody. … Certainly our hearts are with him and his family. His condition is really where it has been. We have no update, but we’re very concerned about him.”

Eagles

  • Per NJ.com’s Mike Kaye, a person with knowledge of the situation says Eagles HC Doug Pederson and the offensive staff have worked to simplify the offense and get QB Carson Wentz to throw the ball as quickly as possible. 
  • Wentz has had a challenging time getting through his progressions and looks panicky on plays that need longer to develop: “Carson is a broken quarterback. Even when he throws a good ball, he’s skittish and unsure.”
  • A defensive player tells Kaye that Wentz is looking good in practice but for whatever reason he hasn’t been able to translate that over to the games. Wentz also appears to have more confidence in his veteran receivers and tight ends than some of the younger options. 
  • Fansided’s Matt Lombardo notes there’s a feeling in league circles that Pederson and Eagles GM Howie Roseman are on thin ice as far as job security. 
  • Pederson said Eagles TE Zach Ertz is “trending in the right direction” and once he comes back Philadelphia could use more multi-tight end sets with Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers. (Zach Berman)
  • Eagles C Jason Kelce‘s elbow is sore but Pederson says he’s trending toward playing Monday against the Seahawks. (Jeff McLane)

Lions

Lions RBs coach Kyle Caskey said that rookie RB D’Andre Swift was not their outright starter at the beginning of the season given they didn’t have a preseason or full offseason program. 

“If you look at snap counts, yeah, Adrian started the games, but really D’Andre was taking the bulk of the snaps and it just didn’t happen to be the first snap of the game,” Caskey said. “I do get that there’s a process to that, ‘Why don’t (you) just do it?’ But again, you got to remember, the kid didn’t have an offseason, didn’t have a preseason, missed all of training camp pretty much and just there’s a process to getting him up and ready for everything that’s going to be thrown at him in that role and it just felt right last week. It felt like it was the time, and unfortunately this happened.”

Lions’ veteran RB Adrian Peterson said he didn’t have any issues with being a backup this season.  

“Honestly, for me, it is what it is,” Peterson said. “I’ve been fortunate to start for every team I’ve played for. To be coming in as a backup, I don’t really have an issue with it. Know why they drafted this young guy, but it’s kind of how it is.”

Peterson added that it “didn’t take me long” to identify Swift as the Lions’ future starting running back. 

“It didn’t take me long at all,” Peterson said. “Just seeing the talent that he has, the ability as well. And you look at the Detroit Lions, they’ve never been a team that really ran, ran the ball. It’s been, you’ve got Matthew Stafford back there and some amazing, talented receivers, so it’s always been a team that’s kind of relied on passing the ball.”

Peterson doesn’t feel his production this season was a factor in him losing the Lions’ starting job. 

“I understand the business that I’m part of,” Peterson said. “So in my mind it never was anything that I did to lose a spot. It was more so what this kid was doing and what we’re doing offensively as far as play calling. So it made sense to me.”

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