When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Tony Pollard in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft the thought was to add a change of pace back that could lessen the load on All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard showed flashes during OTAs and the preseason, but how he would truly fit in with Elliott wouldn’t be determined until the regular season kicked off.
Not only did the two backs feed off of each other but their performance was good enough for Matt Miller of Bleacher Report to name Elliott and Pollard as the fifth-best running back combination heading into 2020.
It was clear playing behind Elliott that Pollard’s touches would be limited, however, he made them all count. After only 46 yards in his first two games, Pollard would end the season with 455 yards and two touchdowns on 86 carries (5.3 yards per rush). He only caught 15 passes for 107 yards as a rookie so it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be used more in that aspect this season considering he caught 104 passes for over 1,200 yards at Memphis.
Elliott, coming off of two rushing titles in his first three seasons, was expected to perform at his usual high level after signing a six-year 90 million dollar extension just before the season. Not one to disappoint, Elliott responded with another campaign. He would total 1,357 yards (4th) and 12 rushing touchdowns (tied for 4th). Also, he compiled 1,777 all-purpose yards (2nd) and seven 100-yard games (tied for 1st).
There were two games that stood out specifically when it comes to this new duo from last season. The first happened in a Week 3 contest vs the Miami Dolphins. Elliott put on his usual dominant performance with 125 yards on 19 carries. Pollard, however, showed the first real sign he was big time as well by adding 103 yards on 13 carries. In Week 15, while the Cowboys were fighting to make the playoffs, the Cowboys 1-2 punch put on another show. Elliott ran for 117 yards on 24 carries, only to be outdone by Pollard’s 131 yards on just 12 carries.
The Cowboys hadn’t had a rushing duo finish with 100 yards in the same game since 1998, and the fact that Elliott and Pollard did it twice in their first season playing together shows just how lethal this pair can possibly be going forward.
Having to gameplan for Elliott is hard enough but the added threat of Pollard makes the Cowboys rushing attack as dangerous as any league-wide. With new coach Mike McCarthy adding some West Coast principles to the Cowboys attack in 2020, Elliott and Pollard will continue to cause sleepless nights for defensive coordinators.