Ezekiel Elliott is officially a Patriot, but the fanbase’s reaction remains mixed. On the one hand, it’s exciting the see the Patriots nab such a big-name player, especially toward the end of a relatively disappointing offseason. On the other hand, it feels like an underwhelming consolation prize after losing out on DeAndre Hopkins in July.
After all, is an aging running back really going to move the needle for a team that’s still projected to finish last in the AFC East?
While some New England fans may be higher on Elliott than others, I have my doubts about his ability to make a major impact on the team this year. Bill Belichick has taken plenty of chances on star players who appeared to be washed up over the years. Some (Randy Moss) were massive hits, while others (Antonio Brown) were epic failures.
I fear that Elliott may ultimately be the latter. Here are three reasons why Zeke will be a massive bust for the Patriots.
3 Reasons Ezekiel Elliott Will Be a Massive Bust
1. Offensive Line Issues
I don’t want to take anything away from Elliott, who’s been a sensational running back for most of his career. But as most football fans know, he greatly benefitted from one of the best offensive lines in the league with Dallas. The Cowboys routinely opened up huge holes for him to run through and prevented him from getting taken down or tripped up in the backfield. As good as Elliott was, his teammates made him even better, enabling him to lead the NFL in rushing yards per game three times.
The Patriots, on the other hand, have one of the worst offensive lines in the league heading into 2023. This has already been apparent during training camp, as New England’s O-line keeps missing assignments and simply lacks the size, strength and quickness to hold off defenders. It also doesn’t help that some of them are learning a new offense for the second time in as many years, so they’re still working out some kinks as well.
This huge disparity in talent is evident in this year’s offensive line rankings at Sharp Football Analysis. Dallas is rated as a top-10 unit at No. 8, while New England is towards the bottom of the list at No. 22.
Suffice it to say, Elliott won’t have the help that he did with the Cowboys. That’s unfortunate for him because given his age (28) and declining production, he needs it more than ever.
Accordingly, expect to see a lot of Elliott getting stuffed at the line in 2023.