Playing another violin is something Tony Pollard should be used to by now. In his three years with the Memphis Tigers and two years with Dallas Cowboys, he has never been more than a backup, but that has not stopped him from taking advantage of his opportunities. Every time he touches the ball, it looks like he is doing something unusual, and therefore the Cowboys would be wise to increase his workload significantly in 2021.
Tony Pollard is a unique player with the versatility to play a variety of roles with the Cowboys going forward. Unfortunately, he has been left to feed what is left when he plays behind one of the highest paid running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, but with the way Dallas’ offense is constructed right now, his time to shine may come. . He could thrive if / when he has been given more opportunities to do so.
During his three-year college career, he had 139 urgent attempts and 104 receptions. Surprisingly, he had nine rushing and nine receiving touchdowns, good for one touchdown for every 13.5 offensive touch. He has yet to be able to find that kind of success in his two years with the Cowboys, but much of it has to do with his inability to do so. As we enter year 3, it’s time to change that.
This is no suggestion that he take over as RB1 for the Cowboys or anything like that. There is no proof right now, he can handle most of the workload, and luckily he does not have to. But he deserves a significant bump in playing time and could actually give more than what Zeke does against the offense. It may be hard to believe, but that does not make it any less true.
In order for the Cowboys to get the most out of their expensive RB, it’s probably in their best interest to cut down on his hand just a little bit. There’s the whisper Zeke may have lost a step, but whether or not it’s true with a skilled sidekick to lessen the strain playing behind him, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of. With that in mind, we could see Tony Pollard’s playing time get a boost this year.
No offense to Zeke, but Pollard provides another set of skills that might just fit better into the way Dallas’ offense is constructed right now. This is no longer the ball control offense Jason Garrett preferred. With the weapons the Cowboys currently have, this is an air-it-out, high-octane offense under Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore. If true, it suits Pollard’s skill a little better than it does Elliotts.
Zeke may be an excellent pass guard and adequate in the passing game, but he is nowhere near as skilled as a route runner or as versatile as a player like Pollard. Pollard’s versatility is something the Cowboys have not really spent on since joining the team in 2019. Surprisingly, he has yet to really show what he’s capable of, but that may change.
Pollard proved last year that he was perhaps the more reliable setback. Behind a patchwork offensive line, he appeared to be the more explosive and elusive RB last season. In fact, he actually ranked number two among 63 qualified ball holders in 2020 with one evasive rating of 82.2 (Elliott ranked 31st). His ability to create something on his own and then explode with the ball in his hands is something Zeke did not show last year.
It remains to be seen whether Pollard will receive increased playing time in 2021, but he has seen his offensive snaps increase each season – 17.75% in 2019 to 31.65% in 2020 – so that is not out of the question either. He has more than proven that he deserves to be more involved in the offensive game plan every week. Whether it happens or not, it is still to be seen.
We discussed Tony Pollard’s potential use in 2021 and the Dallas Cowboys backfield as a whole in the latest episode of our Training Camp Preview series on Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Be sure to subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you do not miss any of our videos!