The Dallas Cowboys have had the NFL’s top-ranked offense in two of the last three seasons. It will be challenging to do that again with the departure of wide receiver Amari Cooper and question marks in the offensive line, but they should still light up the scoreboard in 2022.

If that happens to be the case, one respected national media outlet doesn’t feel one of the Cowboys’ longest-tenured stars will contribute greatly. When Bleacher Report released its candidates for which player would be the biggest bust for every team this upcoming season, running back Ezekiel Elliott was the selection for the Cowboys.

Alex Kay of B/R on why Elliott was chosen:

“Ezekiel Elliott is no longer the feared running back he was earlier in his career.

“After averaging over 95 yards per game on the ground in each of his first three seasons, Elliott has steadily declined over the past few years. His production hit a new low in 2021 when he averaged just 58.9 rushing yards per contest.

“Even his pass-catching abilities are fading. Elliott averaged at least 22 yards per game through the air in each of his first five seasons but failed to even reach a 17-yard per game mark this past year.”

Whoa, wait a minute here.

Granted, Elliott isn’t the same dominant player he was during his first three seasons when he won two rushing titles and led the NFL in yards per game in the season he didn’t. Elliott may be a step behind his 2019 campaign when he finished fourth in rushing. However, Elliott can still be an effective player for the Cowboys’ offense.

The proof of that was in 2021. In the first five weeks of the season, Elliott had two 100-yard performances and another game of 95 yards, placing him third in the NFL in rushing at the time. Unfortunately, Elliott suffered what was later diagnosed as a torn PCL against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, and it noticeably slowed him down for the rest of the season.

Despite playing virtually on one leg for about three months, Elliott finished seventh in rushing yards and was one of only seven running backs to reach 1,000 yards. Also, he reached double-digit rushing touchdowns (10) for the third time in his career and his 12 total touchdowns were his third-most in any season with the Cowboys.

It’s all about health at this point with Elliott. That’s why Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore needs to utilize backup running back Tony Pollard as much as possible. Using two back sets and letting Pollard gash defenses with his speed will keep Elliott fresh and allow him to pound teams with his physical running style when games are tight in the fourth quarter.

Elliott’s days of leading the league in rushing are in the rearview. However, with Pollard on the roster, he doesn’t have to be that anymore. Every player, especially running backs with the punishment they take, aren’t the same as their careers go on. But to suggest Elliott will be the Cowboys’ biggest bust in 2022 is ridiculous.

Feature image via Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports