The Cowboys have one of the deepest offenses in the league, stocked with talent at every skill position. With such a deep cast it can be easy to overlook the guys that play complementary roles, even though every good team has these glue guys that can rotate in and contribute to winning football. Tony Pollard fits this bill for the Cowboys.
He’s not an unknown commodity at this point, but I expect Pollard to cement his status as one of the league’s best change-of-pace RBs in his 3rd season. While I’m expecting a bounce-back season from Ezekiel Elliott, it’s not debatable that Pollard looked more explosive than Zeke at times in 2020.
The numbers back this up too. Pollard had more 20+ yard rushes than Elliott (four-to-three) despite the fact Zeke had over 100 more carries. He was a true homerun threat last season, finishing behind only Aaron Jones, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, Miles Sanders, and Nick Chubb in rushes that broke free for 40+ yards. If this keeps up it’s going to be hard to deny Pollard a bigger slice of the pie.
Tony’s overall numbers were solid in 2020, finishing with 435 yards and 4 TDs on 101 carries, and another 193 yards and a score on 28 catches. I think we will see him make an even bigger impact in the passing game this year. His skill set as a receiver is on par with the younger versions of Theo Riddick and Gio Bernard.
Pollard had a 70% catch rate on 40 targets last year and that should be his floor this season. He’s not going to get 99 targets as Riddick did in 2015, but he should be in line for 50-60 which is in prime Gio Bernard territory (From 2014-2016 he averaged 43 catches and 385 yards on 58 targets per season).
Pollard can also contribute on special teams (766 yards on 32 kick returns in 2020), and most importantly he showed outstanding ball security. In a season where Zeke was plagued with six fumbles (an anomaly, won’t happen again), Pollard didn’t lose a single one. In his sophomore season, his offensive snap count percentage jumped from 18% to 32%, and I’d be shocked if that doesn’t jump up to 35-38% in his third year.
Based on these trends, I think it’s time to get ready for the full Tony Pollard experience in 2021!