“Running backs don't matter.”
It's become a meme at this point, but it has become increasingly more difficult to justify paying running backs big contract numbers in today's NFL. Time and time again we see these big name running backs get paid and fall off a cliff while late round and undrafted backs put up numbers behind superior offensive lines.
I don't want to say this is what's happening in Dallas just yet, as I still believe in Ezekiel Elliott's value when this offense is whole…but there's denying that Tony Pollard is bringing a different level of explosion to this Cowboys backfield.
Tony Pollard this season:
-Elusive Rating: 98.3 (ranks 4th among RBs)
-17 avoided tackles on 60 touches
-Yards After Contact/Attp.: 3.47 (ranks t-7th)
Per Pro Football Focus, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard is fourth among all backs in elusive rating this season, having avoided 17 tackles on 60 touches. He also ranks 7th in the league in yards after contact, not exactly where most fans would identify his strength being.
There's no question that Pollard has brought an extra level of juice to this offense when given opportunities, an excellent change of pace from Elliott's more bruising style. It also seems, though, that the running lanes open up for Pollard in ways they don't for Elliott. Some of that could be reputation, some of it could be game situation, some of it could be luck.
But it also has to do with the difference in running styles, where Pollard is not hitting a jump cut in the backfield and being patient the way that Zeke does. He's just going.
Regardless, Tony Pollard is worthy of carrying a bigger burden as the season goes by, especially considering the year is essentially over anyway. Let Pollard get these carries this season and hope that Elliott comes back fresh and healthy in 2021.