Playing second fiddle is something Tony Pollard should be used to by now. In his three years with the Memphis Tigers, and two years with the Dallas Cowboys, he’s never been more than a backup, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking advantage of his opportunities. Every time he touches the ball he seems to do something exceptional and because of that the Cowboys would be wise to increase his workload significantly in 2021.
Tony Pollard is a unique player with the versatility to play a variety of roles with the Cowboys moving forward. Unfortunately, he’s been left to feed off whatever scraps are left over playing behind one of the highest-paid running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, but with the way Dallas’ offense is constructed right now his time to shine could be coming. He could thrive if/when he’s given more opportunities to do so.
Over his three-year college career, he had 139 rushing attempts and 104 receptions. Surprisingly enough, he had nine rushing and nine receiving touchdowns, good for a touchdown for every 13.5 offensive touches. As of yet he hasn’t been able to find that kind of success in his two years with the Cowboys, but a lot of that has to do with his lack of opportunity to do so. Entering Year 3, it’s time for that to change.
This is no suggestion that he take over as RB1 for the Cowboys or anything like that. There’s no proof right now he can handle the lion’s share of the workload, and luckily he doesn’t have to. But, he deserves a significant bump in playing time and could actually provide more than what Zeke does to the offense. That may be hard to believe, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
In order for the Cowboys to get the most out of their high-priced RB it’s probably in their best interest to cut down his touches just a little bit. There are whispers Zeke may have lost a step, but whether or not that’s true with a capable sidekick to lessen the load playing behind him the Cowboys would be smart to take advantage. With that in mind, we could see Tony Pollard’s playing time receive a boost this year.
No offense to Zeke, but Pollard provides a different skill set that might just fit in better with the way Dallas’ offense is construct right now. This is no longer the ball control offense Jason Garrett preferred. With the weapons the Cowboys currently have, this is an air-it-out, high-octane offense under Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore. If true, that fits Pollard’s skill set a little bit better than it does Elliott’s.
Zeke may be an excellent pass protector and adequate in the passing game, but he’s nowhere near as proficient as a route runner or as versatile as a player as Pollard. Pollard’s versatility is something the Cowboys have yet to really tap into since joining the team in 2019. Surprisingly enough, he has yet to really show exactly what he’s capable of, but that could change.
Pollard proved last year he might be the more reliable running back. Behind a patchwork offensive line he looked to be the more explosive and elusive RB last season. In fact, he actually ranked second among 63 qualified ball-carriers in 2020 with an elusiveness rating of 82.2 (Elliott ranked 31st). His ability to create something on his own and then explode with the ball in his hands is something Zeke didn’t show last year.
It’s yet to be seen whether or not Pollard will receive an increase in playing time in 2021, but he has seen his offensive snaps increase each season - 17.75% in 2019 to 31.65% in 2020 - so it’s not out of the question either. He’s more than proved he deserves to be more involved in the offensive game plan each week. Whether or not it happens though remains to be seen.
We discussed Tony Pollard’s potential usage in 2021 and the Dallas Cowboys backfield as a whole in the latest episode of our Training Camp Preview series on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of our videos!