After watching Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott get off to a ridiculous start in 2020, most coaches would focus their defensive game plan around the Pro Bowl quarterback. But Bucs head coach Bruce Arians says the Tampa Bay defense will focus primarily on stopping RB Ezekiel Elliott.
“Offensively, it’s Ezekiel,” Arians said when asked the one player the Bucs need to stop. “Because it all starts with him and that big offensive line. They’re gonna try to run the football, so we gotta get them in a one dimensional game there.”
Considering Prescott threw for almost 2,000 yards and nine touchdowns in less than five full games, that is a curious answer from Arians. Elliott is obviously a good running back, but he finished under 1,000 yards last season and struggled with fumbles. It has been clear for years now that Prescott is the engine that makes the Cowboys offense run. That’s especially true when you consider Mike McCarthy’s pass-heavy approach over the years, and the Cowboys receiving trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
Did I mention the Bucs are owners of the No. 1-ranked run defense each of the past two seasons?
Of course, all of this could just be coach-speak and mean nothing. It’s far from reason to panic, but it is an interesting reply. The Cowboys will attempt to run the ball at points, but they are underdogs against a team that has put up 30+ points in their last eight games. McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore are going to come out guns blazing on Thursday night, and it’s going to be a long night for the Bucs defense if they are loading the box to stop Elliott.
The Bucs and Cowboys square off on Thursday Night Football to open the 2021 season.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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