All offseason, it was all about Tony Pollard. So far, his usage has been very limited. Taking a look at Tony Pollard’s snap counts over the year is somewhat head scratching. In week one, Pollard played in 22 snaps (32.4%), in week two, he played in 16 snaps (23.2%), in week three, he played in 23 snaps (31.9%). Not terribly bad for a fourth-round rookie, right? But over the last three weeks, those numbers have plummeted, and there’s no real reason why.
In week four, Pollard saw just two offensive snaps (3.4%), in week five, he played in just five snaps (7.0%), and in week six, he played in just seven snaps (8.5%). You could maybe use the argument that Pollard has been less effective over the last three games, than the first three, but that wouldn’t quite be accurate.
In the first three weeks of the season, Pollard was given 30 carries, for 149 rushing yards (4.96 YPC), and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 28 yards as well in weeks one-through-three. In weeks four-through-six, Pollard has hardly seen the field, and rarely gets the football when he’s on it. Over the last three games, Pollard has just seven carries, for 32 yards (4.57 YPC), but he hasn’t been targeted at all in the passing game. It just doesn’t make much sense. The touches he’s gotten he’s been productive in, and the tape backs that up.
Nice job by Tony Pollard to execute a bang read off outside zone with Fleming pressed into the backfield. No hesitation, just makes his read & goes. Nice contact balance to run through Leonard Williams' arm tackle & continue forward.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 14, 2019
Nice blocks by Martin, Knight & Witten too. pic.twitter.com/fyJfXgPJ6L
Jerry and Stephen Jones talked very highly of Pollard this offseason, and even compared his skillset to the likes of Alvin Kamara, one of the leagues most dynamic backs. So why limit his production as soon as Pollard broke out in week three against the Dolphins? There is no easy answer, but there’s a good chance that the Cowboys wanted to use Tony Pollard while Ezekiel Elliott got back into shape after holding out the entire offseason. Now that Elliott’s back into shape, Tony Pollard goes back to bench, and it’s hurting this offense.
While Pollard isn't the runner that Elliott is, he brings a different dynamic to this offense. He has the speed, burst, and explosiveness to create explosive plays for this offense, something they’ve lacked from the ground game in recent years. Along with his big play ability, Pollard is also a much more natural receiver than Ezekiel Elliott, and can be a much better route runner out of the backfield and slot. With Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb dinged up, it would make a ton of sense for Tony Pollard to get on the field more and be used in the Cowboys passing game, but so far there’s no evidence to suggest that could be an option for the Kellen Moore (Jason Garrett) led offense. Remember, Pollard went to the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl as a slot-receiver, before being persuaded by the Senior Bowl staff to go through running back drills and workouts as well. He’s natural in that position, and played it very well in college for Memphis.
Tony Pollard is likely not the savior to the Cowboys red-zone woes, and it’s not like we should expect him to be a better runner than Elliott, but with his skillset, he can bring things to offense that Elliott just simply can’t. What better way to get Pollard involved than in a must-win game against the Philadelphia Eagles, where they don’t have but so much tape on the rookie running back.