Cowboy fans are mad at Ezekiel Elliott. Not because he all but disappeared as a running back in Sunday’s devastating loss to the Broncos.
It’s because he acted as if he didn’t care. Elliott made no effort to become a tackler on two Bronco interceptions, one by Chris Harris and another by Aqib Talib. He stood around, sulking, thinking only of himself.
It makes little sense to get angry at football players after a fumble or an interception. Usually, the mistake was caused by the violence and/or wisdom of an opposing player. The fumble or interception had almost nothing – and maybe nothing – to do with effort.
Elliott is one of the most promising young players in the game, and that’s not all. He’s one of the most promising young running backs ever.
But he’s headed nowhere special if he doesn’t develop a deeper sense of caring, of wanting to do the right thing on the field regardless of the score or his level of frustration.
Fans have no right to expect perfection, even if that’s exactly what many fans expect.
Fans have every right to expect players to compete on every down. They have every right to expect the rich guys on the field to care, and care deeply.
Coach Jason Garrett did not deny Elliott showed a lack of hustle and a lack of caring on the two interceptions.
But Garrett is hopeful about his young back.
"Zeke is one of the most natural competitors I've ever been around," Garrett said. "He loves to play. He loves to practice. I think we've seen that through his first year playing. Those two plays were not indicative of the kind of competitor that he was and we have to get that addressed."
Elliott remains young. He has plenty of time to grow up.
He must start that growing up right now after betraying his team and his fans on Sunday.