Ever since Ezekiel Elliott got his contract, eyes have been on him and his production. Many fans and media pundits alike do not love the idea of paying running backs a premium price which lends itself to scrutiny when your numbers dip after receiving said contract. A deeper dive into Zeke shows you that he is still a productive back, and someone who surely helps a team succeed in a multitude of ways, but it doesn’t hurt to have a spark behind him in Tony Pollard as well.
People are starving for Pollard to get more touches of the football. Whether it’s traditionally or creatively, we all agree the Cowboys need to find a way to get the dynamic back more involved.
The respect for the tandem as a whole across the league is clear, and has been further solidified as PFF ranked the pairing as the seventh-best backfield in the NFL even after a down Zeke year and Pollard having usage issues.
This isn’t a space to get into the Ezekiel Elliott versus Tony Pollard debates. This is a space to appreciate what they offer as a backfield tandem.
2022 Cowboys’ RB Duo 2021 Rushing Grade 2021 Missed Tackles Forced 2021 Receiving Grade Ezekiel Elliot 76.32 155.3 Tony Pollard 90.32 764.9
The pre-injury Elliott from last season — who picked up a first down or touchdown on 30% of his runs through the first four weeks — is still a valuable between-the-tackles runner. Pollard provides the juice that Elliott doesn’t in his complementary role. The fourth-year back out of Memphis has been one of the more efficient runners in the league over the last three seasons. Only Chubb and Henry have averaged more yards after contact per attempt than Pollard since 2019.
An argument could be made that when Zeke is fully healthy this pairing could be ranked even higher among the leagues backfields. Couple that with the fact that Pollard has barely scratched the surface of his potential and there is a realistic chance that the pairing could see a big year in 2022.
The Cowboys would be wise to max out both of these running backs potentials this year as it is a realistic possibility that at least one or even both will not be on the roster come next season. Tony Pollard is in the final year of his rookie deal, and the financial structure of Zeke’s deal becomes a lot more palatable to cut him following this season.
2022 is a big year for the Dallas Cowboys and if they’re going to get where they want to be, they will need the most from this top 10 running back tandem.