Mike McCarthy has worked with better quarterbacks than Dak Prescott, having coached Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. But the Cowboys new head coach has not worked with a better running back in his prime than Ezekiel Elliott.
McCarthy had Frank Gore as a rookie in 2005 when McCarthy was offensive coordinator in San Francisco and the running back rushed for 608 yards. McCarthy was an offensive quality control coach and then the quarterbacks coach in Kansas City in Marcus Allen‘s final five seasons when the Hall of Fame running back never rushed for more than 890 yards while on his last legs.
McCarthy’s leading rushers in his time as head coach at Green Bay were Ahman Green, Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, Alex Green, Eddie Lacy, Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams. (Aaron Jones led the Packers in rushing in 2018 when McCarthy was fired during the season.)
Elliott has rushed for 5,405 yards and 40 touchdowns in his four seasons, winning two rushing titles.
“I think first off with Zeke, he’s going to get the football,” McCarthy said. “Let’s make no mistake about that. I think you have to clearly understand when you saw the offense is going to make a quarterback successful, the best play to make him successful is a great run game. We clearly understand what we have here and how we could build off of that.”
McCarthy had backs rush for 1,000 yards in a season only five times with the Packers. Ryan Grant’s 1,253 rushing yards in 2009 were the most for a running back in McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay.
Elliott has gained more rushing yards in each of his three full seasons. Only in 2017, when he served a six-game suspension, did Elliott gain fewer yards, rushing for 983 in 10 games.
The past four seasons, the Cowboys have averaged 467 carries for 2,171 yards. The Packers’ top rushing season under McCarthy was in 2013 when they had 459 rushes for 2,136 yards.
But McCarthy vows to get Elliott the football in Dallas.