The Dallas Cowboys held their fourth practice of training camp on Saturday, but shortly before they did Jerry Jones held a microphone while addressing the City of Oxnard. Among other things, Jerry discussed part of the state of his team and mentioned his highly-touted running back in Ezekiel Elliott. Jerry noted that Zeke needs to be the focus of the run game, although he mentioned that there was definitely room for Tony Pollard as well.
Interesting comments from #Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on @nflnetwork, saying that Zeke Elliott “has to be the focus” in the run game. “He has to be the focal point” based on his work in the run game and pass game. “There is room for (Tony) Pollard while Zeke is in there.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 30, 2022
This comment was met with some blowback from Cowboys fans who want to see Tony Pollard’s workload increased in 2022. In another comment from Saturday, Jerry noted that the Cowboys needed to “do anything” with Pollard that they plan on doing with new signee KeVontae Turpin, but given that Pollard is entering year four it feels safe to say the standard should be a bit higher.
Late Saturday night we were fortunate to be able to speak to someone who knows a thing or two about the usage of running backs. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith joined me on The SB Nation NFL Show in an interview that can also be heard on the Blogging The Boys podcast network (Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here) and on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel (subscribe here). Smith joined us on behalf of Panini and is doing some very cool stuff with them that he discussed.
Since we were speaking to him just hours after Jerry’s comments about Elliott, it felt only fitting to ask him what he thought. He agrees that Zeke needs to be the focus of the running game and what’s more is he thinks Zeke should be the focus of the entire offense as a whole.
Obviously Emmitt Smith is a running back from a different era, one that transcended just about any obstacle that was placed in front of him. He truly was the type of back that he is describing Zeke to be and while that is not to say that Zeke isn’t effective in his own right, the usage of a committee at the position in today’s NFL certainly has its merits.
It does seem clear that the Cowboys want to continue to prioritize Ezekiel Elliott in the run game and in their offense as a whole. In discussing Zeke, the state of his game often tends to get exaggerated in the advocacy for Tony Pollard, the truth can be somewhere in between in that they are both good players and can both be used to help the team in the overall.