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Cowboys rookie report: Tony Pollard’s usage in game plan drops in disappointing loss

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We wanted more of the rookie, but Tony Pollard only ran the ball twice against the Eagles.

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Cowboys let a grand opportunity of winning consecutive NFC East titles and locking up a playoff spot for the third time in four seasons slip away in the loss to the Eagles. It was an overall disaster, as the team could not get anything going against an injury-plagued, short-handed Philadelphia squad on the road. It was a win-and-in game, and the Cowboys did not rise to the occasion.

Now, the Cowboys have no control of their own destiny. Dallas has to hope that they not only defeat Washington, but that the Giants are also able to knock off the Eagles in MetLife Stadium. In that scenario, the Cowboys would limp into the postseason with a banged up quarterback and a team that doesn’t look to have much, if any, confidence in themselves or their head coach.

Regarding the 2019 rookie class, there wasn’t much new to report. As has been the case for the majority of the season, just one rookie saw any real action for the Cowboys; though, even he was limited in the game plan — just a week after we asked if he was the key to unleashing the Dallas Cowboys.

One of the biggest bright spots in Sunday’s rout over the Rams was a member of the 2019 rookie class, a draft class that has otherwise been very, very meh. Tony Pollard was given a bigger role in the game plan and he delivered. The Memphis product touched the rock a total of 14 times for 145 yards from scrimmage, including leading the team in rushing.

Pollard brings a ton of versatility to an offense that likes to create explosive plays; he is able to provide an impact as both a ball carrier and as a pass catcher while also offering some value in the return game. His versatility and play-making ability made him dangerous at Memphis in a crowded backfield and it has a chance of carrying over in the pros as well.

Rookie Tony Pollard, who was coming off his best performance of his rookie campaign with a 12-carry, 131-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Rams, was almost nowhere to be found in Philadelphia.

The Eagles’ own young rookie back, Miles Sanders, was a big factor in Philly’s win — touching the ball for a total of 25 times, rushing for 79 yards and one of the game’s only touchdowns while adding another 77 yards as a receiver. Pollard, meanwhile, was a non-factor — carrying the ball just two times, without adding any targets or receptions in the passing game.

Granted, one of Pollard’s only two touches greatly hurt the team, as the rookie out of Memphis fumbled the ball deep in Eagles territory on a critical third-and-1 play in the second half. Not only was the play-call of a speed option strange, but not allowing Pollard to get into a groove in the game plan was also head-scratching.

Ezekiel Elliot is obviously the workhorse back of this team, but completely disregarding Pollard following a game in which he made the Rams’ defense look silly is extremely confusing. Pollard, as said earlier, didn’t help when he put the ball on the ground, but the lack of touches prior to that play didn’t make much sense.

The Cowboys produced two 100-yard rushers in the dominant victory over the Rams, showing us what could have been. Against Philly, though, the Cowboys were held to just 54 yards on 16 attempts.

Ventell Bryant was the only other rookie to show up in the box score last Sunday, as the first-year receiver out of Temple was credited with one tackle. The rookie saw two snaps on the offense’s final, and most important, drive of the game.