The Cowboys’ playoff hopes are dwindling without Ezekiel Elliott

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys were crushed by the Eagles Sunday night. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

When the Dallas Cowboys started their preparation for the 2016 draft, Jerry Jones expected to take a defensive player with their first pick, the fourth overall. As the Dallas decision-makers studied available players, they found no pass rushers or defensive backs worthy of the pick. They kept coming back to Ezekiel Elliott, a running back out of Ohio State, and came to a realization: The player who could most help their defense wasn’t a defensive player. It was Elliott, who could help a fresh defense and make life easier for their quarterback.

“We felt like the best player that would really help keep the ball, help us maintain possession, we felt like Zeke could do that,” Jones said last year. “We all agreed, he was the best player away from the ball we’ve seen come out of college — his blocking, his route running, all of those things.”

From the moment the Cowboys added Elliott, they designed not only their offense, but their entire team, around Elliott’s excellence. It helps explain why they have unraveled without him, and why their season is now hanging from a cliff. The Cowboys lost at home Sunday night

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