There was always a thought in the minds of Cowboys fans: If Tony Pollard got the RB1 workload, what would he do with it? Other than the glaring flashes when given the opportunity, could he be the main guy in the backfield? Well, those questions were answered this past Sunday. With a lingering injury to Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard was given the chance to be the feature back and in just four quarters of work, he scored three touchdowns, something Elliott has yet to do in his historic Cowboys career, and ran for 131 yards on just 14 carries. With a 6-2, NFC-contending record, what will the Cowboys backfield look like after the bye week?
Jones also, in his usual loyal-to-Elliott fashion, emphasized his belief that the Cowboys “go as Zeke goes.” Jones described Elliott as “important to this team and every bit as important as he was before the game.” And when asked by Yahoo Sports whether he understood the argument for giving Pollard the primary load, Jones dissented.
“No, there’s no argument,” Jones said. “Zeke’s ability to punish, Zeke’s ability to deliver it, Zeke’s ability to what he does for us in pass protection and frankly Zeke’s ability to make big plays are there. We’re going to go as Zeke goes. I really mean he’s that integral to our success this year.”
Big plays, you say? In every single game this season, Tony Pollard has had a longer rush than Ezekiel Elliott. Even in the games where Elliott doubled Pollard’s rushing attempts, Pollard still had a longer rush. Against the Rams, for example, Elliott ran the ball 22 times and his longest was for 12 yards. Pollard? Well, he ran the ball eight times and his longest was 57. So, that statement by Mr. Jones doesn’t seem to hold up, especially when assessing it on this season.
There is no denying what Elliott brings to the table in pass protection and inside running, but when it comes to burst, big plays, and overall impact, it is hard to ignore the statistics that support Pollard in just about every sense of the word. Even Elliott was a bit dismissive about it when asked following one of his very few career absences Sunday.
“All I’m worried about is winning, and at the end of the season. I want to be holding up that Lombardi,” Elliott told Yahoo Sports while hoisting his imaginary trophy. “We’ve all got the same goal and that’s for this team to be successful.
“It doesn’t matter to me or him if it’s me or him doing it.”
The offense looked as good as it has in years with Pollard at the head, but a reluctance to change by the heads of this organization may keep the current split as is. However, there may be a slight shift that is yet to be seen, and if that is the case, this offense may finally be able to get back on track as it was the beginning half of last season.