Emmitt Smith: RB Ezekiel Elliott 'poised to do great things' in NFL

ByJean-Jacques Taylor ESPN logo
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, has enjoyed watching Ezekiel Elliott as much as anyDallas Cowboysfan this season.

It's because he's a connoisseur of running backs.

Smith sees things the average fan doesn't, so his appreciation of what Elliott has done is greater than most.

Elliott leads the NFL in yards (1,285) and carries (263), and he has already broken Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett's 30-year-old franchise rookie rushing record of 1,007 yards.

And Elliott is just off the pace to break Eric Dickerson's NFL rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards, set in 1983.

"I see a guy who has vision, explosion, speed and quickness," Smith said. "I just see a guy that's poised to do great things in this league and has an offensive line that will give him an opportunity to do it.

"I'm loving what I'm seeing. I am inspired."

That's because of runs like Elliott made in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' 17-15 win over the Minnesota Vikings last week.

With Dallas clinging to a 14-9 lead, Elliott headed off right guard, and when the hole was clogged, he bounced it outside and zoomed 30 yards off right tackle before being tackled. The run set up a field goal, giving Dallas a 17-9 lead.

"It was a beautiful jump cut," Smith said excitedly of Elliott's move. "It was beautiful.

"I used it as a tool to show my son -- most people don't even know what a jump cut is -- and illustrate what he did and how he got out into the open. It was a great teaching moment."

That play was an example of what Cowboys coach Jason Garrett means when he says the runner matters. It's not that other running backs wouldn't have success behind the Cowboys' offensive line, but the line's talent combined with Elliott's unique skill set is what gives Dallas the league's best running game.

"When you do things like that," Smith said of Elliott's game-changing play against the Vikings, "it means you got excellent vision. Your vision takes you there, and then whether you use a jump cut or a sidestep depends on what you have in your arsenal. It was one hell of a move."

Related Video