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Position group analysis: How the Cowboys running backs ran Miami out of the building

The running backs were super productive and impressive this past Sunday against Miami Dolphins.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

[Each week we will look back at the game to focus on a single position group and how they performed. Whether it’s high-praise for the Cowboys biggest contributors to another victory formation, or the scapegoats for any potential losses, we’ll spotlight one personnel grouping for review.]

When reviewing the past game vs. the Dolphins, no position grouping had a better day than the Cowboys’ running backs. Both Ezekiel Elliott and rookie Tony Pollard rushed for over 100 yards on the ground:

EZEKIEL ELLIOTT 19 125 6.6 8 90 35 0
TONY POLLARD 13 103 7.9 6 50 53 1


The Dolphins defense came into this game giving up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. It would have been easy for the Cowboys offense to lean on Ezekiel Elliott all game long like they had in the past but this game shows exactly what type of offensive progress has been made under Kellen Moore.

Elliott is a phenomenal football player and the greatest threat this Cowboys team has because opponents have to be aware of his abilities. In the past, opponents would just stack the box and take their chances with Dak Prescott. Well, the addition of Amari Cooper and the development of Prescott now are just as lethal as any QB-WR duo in the NFL.

The protection and run-blocking have been light years better than last season and Zeke is not having to make up for as much behind the line of scrimmage. Against the Dolphins, Elliott rushed 19 times and only two of those were stuffed at the line for no gain. Not a single carry went for negative yards when Elliott had over 50 carries go for loss last season.

Here is Elliott running against a six-man box in 11-personnel:

11 of Ezekiel Elliott’s 19 carries went for more than five yards, six 10+yard runs, and eight rushing first downs. He may not have had a touchdown but Ezekiel Elliott was dynamite in this week three victory.


When Zeke used to be taken out for a series the Cowboys would be behind the chains. If Zeke wasn’t out there, the Cowboys percentages of success were very slim. Especially last year, Rod Smith just didn’t give the Cowboys offense much of anything because he didn’t have the agility or vision it takes when the offensive line is compromised. Enter Tony Pollard.

Kellen Moore was so excited to fight for a player like Pollard in the draft and this game was the perfect time to feature him. The Cowboys really found something here because Pollard is dirty with the way he cuts on a defender:

On 32% of the offensive snaps, Pollard put together a 100-yard rushing day and was averaging about eight yards per carry. As a receiver, he had three receptions for 25 yards, another eight yards per reception. That’s how you stay ahead of the chains and put a defense in dire straits. Tony Pollard is much more than a gadget player, he’s a running back with incredible vision. Pollard was making plays all over the field in this game:

Not only does Pollard keep the Cowboys ahead of the chains when Elliott is getting a breather, he also can twist the knife in a defense. Speaking of knifing through the defense, check out this master class of exploding through the hole and finishing your run:

It was an extremely successful day running the football for the Cowboys and that’s just another feather in the cap for Kellen Moore’s offense. It’s truly a chameleon offense that can adapt to the opponent and make it work to perfection. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, take a bow.

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