Not much went wrong for the Cowboys on Sunday, as they thrashed their division rival, the New York Giants, 49-17. The team dominated in every facet of the game, having 640 total yards of offense, converting 32 first downs, and dominating time of possession. The Cowboys offense couldn’t be stopped (well, after the first series), with many players having their breakout game of the season. WR Brandin Cooks had his best game in a Cowboys uniform, accumulating nine receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown. Cowboys fans rejoiced in an effective running game on Sunday. However, the best running of the day on either team came from backup RB Rico Dowdle.
Dowdle showcased his explosiveness out of the backfield on Sunday, rushing 12 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry and added the longest carry of the night with a 21-yarder.
Notably, the Cowboys gave Dowdle carries on the first possession of the game, and he made the most of his early opportunities. However, the team shied away from him near the goal line in favor of RB Tony Pollard, and the Cowboys paid the price for it. The team came away with no points on the opening possession.
It makes no sense?— Mike Poland (@kenfigkowboy) November 12, 2023
Rico Dowdle just run up the middle for a chunk play and then gets checked out the play from the five-yard line.
Then they run Pollard up the middle and come up short on fourth-down. Strange sequence#DallasCowboys
The Cowboys franchise-tagged RB Tony Pollard in the offseason after he had a phenomenal year in 2022. In 2023 however, Pollard has taken a step back in production. Through nine games he has just 529 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 135 carries. He is averaging a measly 3.9 yards per carry, and only averaging 58.8 yards per game.
RJ Ochoa pointed out an eye-opening stat on last week’s episode of the roundtable on the Blogging The Boys YouTube channel. In 2022, former Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott had a more productive first eight games of the season for the Cowboys than Pollard has had in 2023.
- 2022 Ezekiel Elliott (first eight games): 124 carries, 485 yards, 6 TD’s
- 2023 Tony Pollard (first eight games): 120 carries, 474 yards, 2 TD’s
Pollard has not been the explosive player this season that the Cowboys have grown to expect. This could be due to several different factors. The most notable one is that Pollard did suffer a significant injury in the divisional round playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers last year in the playoffs. It could simply be that Pollard has not fully made his way back from injury, as he has looked less explosive this season. It could also be that Pollard is no longer benefiting from having a power-back like Ezekiel Elliott weaken the defense and open up Pollard for more opportunities. Without Elliott on the team this year, it seems as if big runs from Pollard have been far less common. Pollard’s longest run of the season thus far is only 31 yards.
Pollard could benefit greatly from Dowdle receiving more carries in the Cowboys offense heading forward. Dowdle runs with a ferocity and aggression that is uncommon in the NFL, looking to seek out contact and gain as many yards as he can every touch. He shows a hunger to make the most of his opportunities, likely rooted from going undrafted in 2020. The Cowboys should look to continue to add a balance of Pollard and Dowdle heading forward, hopefully leading to more efficient running game and a versatile offense the remainder of the season.