Ezekiel Elliot has been considered a star in the NFL and received one of the biggest bags for a running back in league history. As Dallas has continued to fall short of projected success in recent seasons, the play of their high-priced back has deteriorated as well.
That development has ESPN’s Marcus Spears believing backup Tony Pollard is the eventual replacement for Zeke — and sooner rather than later. Spears expounded on his thoughts during an appearance on “Get Up” Monday.
Pollard, the dual-threat scatback by way of Memphis, finished the 2021 season with career-highs in carries (130), rushing yards (719), receptions (39), receiving yards (337), total touches (169), yards after catch (321), and 15 receiving first downs.
“Listen this is a no-brainer. We saw how explosive Tony Pollard was last year with the ball in his hands, and I got mad at the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Kellen Moore, for not getting him touches, and this just ain’t handoffs. Get him the ball out of the backfield. Throw it to him, get him in space, let him make plays.”
Pollard was a big play waiting to happen, but for some reason the Cowboys didn’t use him as much as they should’ve. Instead, opting for a hobbled and declining Elliott. This move had contract value written all over it, as anyone who watched the Cowboys last season could easily see that Pollard was the better and healthier option at running back.
While Elliott has been solid, he hasn’t performed anywhere near the back that burst on the scene as a rookie in 2016 with 1,631 yards on 5.1 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns.
At that time, he was the centerpiece of the Dallas Cowboys offense.
Pollard To Have Expanded Role In 2022
The Cowboys traded their best wideout in Amari Cooper, meaning CeeDee Lamb will be the new No.1 pass-catcher in “Big D.” But it seems the Cowboys want to also integrate Pollard into the passing game a bit more. This could even be a role similar to the one receiver Deebo Samuel has for the Niners.
— WalkOn Coach (@Locklyn33) December 3, 2021
Here’s what Pollard told reporters in an interview during OTAs.
“I definitely feel like any opportunity I’m given, I’m going to do my best to make the most of it. The more I get, the more I can benefit the team.”
In 2021, Pollard only played 30.4 percent of the team’s snaps, while Elliott saw 66.9 percent. While the Cowboys reiterated Zeke is their starter, Pollard is going to see the field a lot more than he did in 2021, and that’s a good thing for the Cowboys and a bad thing for NFL defenses.
“I’m open to anything just being on the field, being able to make the most of my opportunities. If I have to line up in the slot a little more, whatever it takes I’m ready to do it.”
— fishsports (@fishsports) May 29, 2022
Pollard Is One Of Many Former Dynamic Memphis Tigers Playmakers
The Tigers have backs who are thriving as playmakers in the NFL; Antonio Gibson (Washington Commanders) and Darrell Henderson Jr. of the reigning Super Bowl champion and Los Angeles Rams.
All of them, including former Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller, were once on the same team in college. Pollard and Gibson played similar roles in college as dual-threat slot receiver/tailback. It was unique, but their skill sets allowed it.
🚨 TONY POLLARD 100-YARD RETURN 🚨
— NFL (@NFL) November 25, 2021
The Cowboys finished the regular season 12-5 winning the NFC East, but once again they failed to meet lofty expectations after securing the No. 3 seed in the postseason. The Cowboys laid an egg in a home playoff loss to the San Francisco Niners. There was plenty of blame to go around — from head coach Mike McCarthy to star QB Dak Prescott — and even Elliott.
Owner Jerry Jones called out his former wideout Amari Cooper, whom the team traded to the Cleveland Browns in March. One name that escaped blame, however, was running back Tony Pollard, the dynamic do-it-all speedster from Memphis, who averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season.
1.3 yards more per carry than the aforementioned starter Elliott (4.2).
The Cowboys may finally be willing to do what’s best for the franchise and not their appearance by capitalizing on Pollard’s unique talent to make defenses stress a tad more in 2022.