With one game remaining, the Cowboys currently possess a 12-4 record and are second in the NFC East. There are still a few dominoes left to fall in order to know exactly what seed Dallas will have heading into the playoffs. The best case scenario is still in play and it is certainly possible for the Cowboys to get the top seed in the NFC. The worst case scenario is that the Cowboys land the fifth seed. On the bright side of whatever happens in Week 18, America’s Team is back to where it belongs - in the playoffs.
What happens in this year’s playoffs is still yet to be determined, but there is one player who the Cowboys need to lean on most during the upcoming stretch, and that player is Tony Pollard. Pollard, who is playing the best ball of his career, couldn’t have timed this any better with free agency looming after the conclusion of this season. His importance to the team has multiple layers due to the various ways that he can impact the game. Every time he has the ball in his hands, it seems like some magic is about to happen because of how talented he is.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see where things started, and work our way towards where they currently stand right now.
The ability was always there, but it took him sometime to really show what he could do
During his days at the University of Memphis, Pollard had proven himself to be a very good kick returner. Not only was he a good returner, but he played both running back and wide receiver. While playing those positions in college, he flashed ability in both the run game as well as the pass game. He had the makings of a potentially great player at the next level, but he was limited in year one.
During his rookie year, he would gain 455 rushing yards on 86 attempts with two touchdowns. He would add 15 catches for 107 yards and one touchdown. The majority of his stats came off of two 100-yard rushing performances against the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams. For the majority of his rookie season, his on-the-field impact was limited due to the lack of touches during the games.
Year two was a similar story, but he was able to showcase his ability on special teams
The 2020 season for Pollard was where it seemed to be coming together as he had his career bests in returns and in return yardage. He would also see an uptick in rushing attempts as well as in the pass game. He would finish with 766 return yards, 435 rushing yards, and 193 receiving yards. He would add five touchdowns in his second year in addition to the yardage totals.
It appeared that he was really starting to put things together
Many pundits were feeling good about Pollard’s prospects on offense heading into his third season in 2021. Those folks would be very pleased with his efforts as he rushed for over 700 yards, and caught nearly 40 passes totaling over 300 yards. In addition to those figures on offense, he would add nearly 500 return yards on special teams. In total he surpassed 1,500 yards on the season. This type of season showed how dangerous Tony Pollard could be with the ball in his hands.
The breakout is upon us...
As each year passed, Pollard would keep on getting better. Due to his improvement, in 2022, the Cowboys finally would give him a much bigger workload. This massive increase in touches would take the franchise’s offense to another level. He has since proven to be the most dynamic player on the field, and the offensive unit just seems to have more juice when number 20 is out there. He rarely gets tackled by the first defender and turns negative plays into positive plays. Pollard possesses rare ability as an effective runner as well as an effective pass catcher. The league as a whole has noticed how good he is as he has garnered his first Pro Bowl selection.
The breakout has happened, and it is about time for Tony Pollard to get paid!
There is nothing like a first Pro Bowl appearance in a contract year, and he is about due for a massive increase in pay. Being just 25-years-old, with very little wear and tear during his first four seasons, he should be at the top of the list for teams seeking an upgrade at running back. Don’t be surprised in the spring when he gets an annual salary of between 8 and 10 million. With Ezekiel Elliott’s massive contract on the books currently, there will need to be some adjustments made in order to pay Pollard enough to keep him in town. The unfortunate reality is Dallas has developed Pollard into the player he is now and might lose him after this year.
To stay, or not to stay... the franchise will feel the effects one way or another, depending on what unfolds
The possibility of Tony Pollard’s departure after this season could cause a negative domino effect for years to come. It would be best to rework some contracts (specifically Elliott’s), to lock Pollard up for the foreseeable future. His importance to the Dallas Cowboys is quite high, and losing his services to another team would be a massive blow for years to come.