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Tony Pollard Steals Zeke’s “Closer” Role Against the Miami Dolphins

Brian Martin

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Tony Pollard, not Zeke the Cowboys Closer Against the Dolphins

The Dallas Cowboys ended up with a total of 34 rushing attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon. Those totals aren't all that surprising considering this was supposed to be a blowout, but how those carries were divvied up could be something to pay attention to moving forward.

As you would expect, Ezekiel Elliott handled the majority of the workload for the Dallas Cowboys offense. He had a total of 19 carries for 125 yards, but also ended up with two catches for 14 yards in the passing game. It's just three games into the 2019 season, but Zeke continues to quietly get off to the best start of his career.

What Ezekiel Elliott did against the Miami Dolphins isn't all that surprising. But what is surprising though is rookie Running Back Tony Pollard ended up not being too far behind No. 21 in touches. Pollard finished the game with 13 carries for 103 yards and one TD and added three catches for 25 yards. That's a total of 16 touches compared to Zeke's 21.

Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

No other RB has come close to competing with No. 21 in touches since Zeke became a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, let alone being nearly as productive doing so. As surprising as that is though, Tony Pollard also stole the "closer" role Sunday afternoon against the Dolphins as well. It's not something that should be taken too lightly, even though the Cowboys had the game put away.


The closer role as something Ezekiel Elliott has done quite well since arriving in Dallas. His ability to pick up the tough yards and control the clock has won the Cowboys many games, which is why seeing someone else handle that responsibility was a bit odd. However, Tony Pollard was quite impressive closing out the Miami game.

To me, this shows that No. 20 has earned the trust of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. They wouldn't put him out there in that kind of position if they didn't believe he was capable of handling the job. With the wear and tear Zeke will accumulate throughout the season, this is a role Pollard could reprise at some point. Fortunately he looks to be up to the task.

I don't expect this to be a regular gig for Tony Pollard and I also don't continue to see him having nearly as many touches as Ezekiel Elliott either, but there's no doubt he's upgraded the Dallas Cowboys backup RB position. I think he's just starting to scratch the surface of his talent and has earned himself an expanded role on offense. His days as the "closer" though may be few and far between.

What did you think of Tony Pollard in the "closer" role?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems

No one expected the Dallas Cowboys to lose to the New York Jets, but that's precisely what happened when they left the field at MetLife Stadium last Sunday. So far, it's been the most painful loss of the season given it was supposed to be a great opportunity for a "get-right" game. But what happened in New York?

Let's get to this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday. I promise you there's a couple of positive ones.

Dak Prescott's The Least of Cowboys Problems

When an NFL team isn't playing well, there are two specific persons fans will go after. The head coach and the quarterback. In the Cowboys' case, Dak Prescott is far from the problem. On his contract year, Dak is playing at a high level. The box score might not tell you that, but the tape will. He's far from an elite QB, but he's a guy you can win big with.

Perhaps his biggest issue is the inaccurate throws he can make from time to time. But just as that happens once in a while, Prescott has the ability to throw some pretty good balls in tight situations. He can throw on the run, move around in the pocket and remain calm under intense situations. He showed that versus the New York Jets - playing without his two starting tackles and #1 wide receiver - when he was constantly under pressure and still managed to throw the football around.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Cowboys 4th drive of the game Dak.... 3rd & 2 - Ridiculous throw to Cedric Wilson for big gain. 3rd & 8 - Getting hit by Q Williams completes to Austin for a big gain. Then they go 4 straight run plays and turn it over. Let your QB score your points please.

In a game where he lacked key players around him, he managed to get Cedrick Wilson and Tavon Austin a combined 10 catches for 110 yards, as Staff Writer Jess Haynie pointed out. 

Right now, Dak's a good quarterback with the potential to grow into an even better one. A great one. The Cowboys have plenty of things to clean up, but Dak Prescott is not one of them.

Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems 1

Injuries Will Be Tough On This Team

Many fans are turning against the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff after a three-game losing streak. One of the main reasons why is how this football team is being overwhelmed with injuries and failing to execute without key players. This time, the Cowboys played without their two starting offensive tackles and their star wide receiver, Amari Cooper. It's not easy to win a game on the road that way.

Yet, the New Orleans Saints beat the Cowboys without their staring QB Drew Brees. The Green Bay Packers didn't have WR Davante Adams when they traveled to Dallas. And the then 0-4 New York Jets didn't have LB C.J. Mosley and TE Chris Herndon when they hosted the Cowboys last Sunday.


Can this team overcome injuries going forward? They didn't prove it against a bad New York Jets team. This Cowboys team is too talented to lose when healthy, but issues will likely continue if injuries do.

Play-Calling Impossible To Figure Out

One thing is to lose three straight games. Another thing is to completely change what was working for you offensively when you scored over 30 points in each of the first three games. The Cowboys seemed to have a new-look pass-first offense playing RPOs, play-action, throwing deep in early downs and looking like a modern NFL offense. The Scott Linehan days were over... until they came right back.

Tom Downey on Twitter

The Cowboys ran play-action on 39.4% of passes (2nd-highest) in the first 3 weeks. It's down to 17.2% (Tied for 3rd-fewest) in the last 3. Game script obviously a key factor there but wow. (All per PFF, Min. 20% of team dropbacks, btw) https://t.co/PhsFaefxGv

Versus the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets specifically, the Cowboys went back to running on a huge amount of first downs. Last Sunday, Dallas run the ball 17 times on first down, only to average 2.9 yards per carry. Many have speculated that Jason Garrett has been an influence on Kellen Moore's play-calling but there's no evidence to back that up.

Kellen Moore's play-calling has worked under one approach and failed under another. How long will it take the Cowboys to stick to the successful one? Going into week 6, they were the #1 offense by DVOA. They clearly can make it work. Are they afraid of being on the road or what is the reason they're not sticking to what's working?

Cedrick Wilson Had a Nice Game

The Boise State product didn't have a lot of opportunities to prove himself, but he had a fairly decent game. With Amari Cooper sidelined, Wilson had five catches for 46 yards. One of them was a highlight reel catch on third down.

Tom Downey on Twitter

Cedrick Wilson pulls down the 3rd down catch from Dak Prescott. Really nice placement by Dak and a nice job to make the catch by Wilson. #DallasCowboys https://t.co/CVTDQ9mUlv

Wilson's five catches were the first of his career. He was pretty solid versus the Jets and if the Cowboys are without Cooper next weekend, he'll have plenty of opportunities to build on a strong performance. Wilson was a complete receiver in Boise and has the potential to fill a ton of roles for the Cowboys if called upon.

It was promising to watch him play well after missing his entire rookie season in 2018.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Game Notes

The Brady Report: Organizational Failure At Metlife Stadium

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: 2

The Dallas Cowboys suffered their most embarrassing loss of the 2019 season on Sunday, falling at the hands of the previously winless New York Jets 24-22.

Trailing for pretty much the entire afternoon, Dallas came all the back from 21-3 to give themselves a chance to tie the game and force overtime. But, after Dak Prescott ran in for a touchdown to cut the Jets' lead, a Jamal Adams blitz forced an incompletion on the two point conversion.


The Cowboys now sit at 3-3 and the sky seems to be falling in Arlington. Let's get into my game notes from this horrid loss.

  • Let's just start with head coach Jason Garrett. I've been somewhat of a Garrett defender in recent years, feeling that he's built a strong culture in Dallas. The players seem to fight for him, and rarely are his teams completely undressed like they've been time and time again the past three seasons. But, man, Garrett's clock management and decision making have been downright awful as of late. Down 21-9 in the fourth quarter the Cowboys showed no sense of urgency on offense, handing the ball off on nearly every first and ten. This wouldn't be as big a deal if the runs were successful, but they often weren't. He then settled for a field goal down 21-9, an inexcusable decision considering the win probability added (or lack thereof) had the kick been made. Then, with over 40 seconds left and plenty of time to score, Garrett called an absurdly stupid time out. Dallas scored, missed the two point conversion, and never had a chance to get the ball back because they lost their time out. An awful, awful day for Garrett and the Cowboys coaching staff.
  • Dak Prescott was generally good on Sunday, battling through adversity on offense to give the Cowboys a legit chance to win. But it's time for him to really take control of the offense. He needs to get them out of unfavorable looks pre-snap, and audible out of some of these atrocious run calls. The fourth and two in the second quarter is the best example of this. Prescott has to see that Dallas is at a numbers disadvantage at the point of attack and is running to the short side of the field. Get out of the play, man. As stated earlier, though, Prescott has produced much more good than bad this season overall. He's still the guy in Dallas, and the highs can still be high this season if the health around him (specifically on the offensive line) gets right.
  • Chidobe Awuzie might not be good, guys. Awuzie got beat clean off the line by Robby Anderson for a 92 yard touchdown, and this is becoming quite the trend for the Cowboys young corner. Jeff Heath should've gotten more depth and helped Awuzie in his coverage, but this breakdown looked to be 100% on Awuzie from the broadcast angle. Typically, Awuzie gets beat at the catch point after being in good positioning. This week that was not the case, he just got beat.
  • Jourdan Lewis finally got playing time at cornerback and Cowboys Twitter rejoiced. Lewis had somewhat of an up and down performance, but his highs certainly outweighed any lows. Lewis' interception kept the Cowboys alive in third quarter, and his forced incompletion on third down gave the offense a chance to go and try to tie the game. Let Lewis keep getting snaps, and let's see if he can do any better than the rest of this underperforming defense.
  • Robert Quinn was once again a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing defensive line. I've been quite the supporter of DeMarcus Lawrence as he's gotten off to a "slow" start statistically in 2019. But, man, not being able to come through with production against the Jets' bad offensive line is not a good sign. No doubt he's been getting double teamed at an unreal rate, though, which has helped Quinn get free.
  • Ezekiel Elliott had arguably his best day of the 2019 season thus far, but he just doesn't look like himself on some these runs. Not as elusive or explosive as he once was, Elliott has become more of a bruising back that will get you 3-5 yards on most carries. This is totally fine, and his vision and contact balance are still elite, but Dallas should be utilizing Tony Pollard more to increase their big play potential on the ground. Especially with so many of their normal passing games weapons out with injuries.
  • Brandon Knight was once again impressive at right tackle. Filling in for La'el Collins, Knight had himself a nice day both in pass protection and as a run blocker. A few times Knight executed really strong pulls to get Ezekiel Elliott free to the second level. Knight and Zack Martin pulling and leading for Elliott is a pretty sight for the Cowboys offense. Don't get me wrong, he was far from perfect, but for a backup right tackle he had a nice afternoon.
  • Michael Gallup's drops hampered the Cowboys offense heavily in the first half, but he had a rather strong second half performance. If Amari Cooper is going to miss significant time, as it sounds like he might, Gallup is going to have to be consistent with his hands for four quarters. I have no doubt that he will be next week.


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Game Notes

Cowboys WR Absences Allow Tavon Austin, Cedrick Wilson to Step Up

Jess Haynie

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Tavon Austin, Jets

Yesterday's loss to the New York Jets didn't leave many positives to discuss for the Dallas Cowboys. But one silver lining was the play of Receivers Tavon Austin and Cedrick Wilson, who were efficient and impactful in larger roles with some of their teammates missing in action.

We already knew that Randall Cobb would miss the Jets game. He injured his back in practice last week and was among the Cowboys' seven inactive players in New York.

But things got much worse on Dallas' first offensive series when Amari Cooper injured his quad and wound up leaving the game for good. That left Dak Prescott without his top receiver in Cooper and one of his best security blankets in Cobb.

Compounding the issue were the absences of Tyron Smith and La'el Collins at the offensive tackle position. When a QB is under pressure, trusting your receivers is vital to keeping the ball moving and avoiding a complete passing game shutdown.

Thankfully, Tavon Austin and Cedrick Wilson were able to contribute.

Austin had five catches for 64 yards, the most catches he's had in a single game so far as a Cowboy. Some of them weren't easy grabs, either; Tavon had to making a diving catch along the sideline for one and then slide to the ground for another reception. He did a great job of adjusting when Prescott was throwing under duress.

Wilson also had five catches resulting in 46 yards. After missing his entire rookie season on injured reserve and having only one target so far in 2019, these were Cedrick's first catches in a regular season game.

Combined, Austin and Wilson kept the passing game afloat with 10 catches for 110 yards. They were each targeted just six times to get those numbers; surprisingly good efficiency given the lack of playing time they've had with the starting quarterback.


Cedrick Wilson could shine after a year off

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson

Credit Dak Prescott for finding ways to get the ball to his less familiar options, but also credit the receivers for knowing where to go and making the plays.

Austin and Wilson may be asked to do more again this week in a pivotal meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles. The winner of this game will take sole possession of the NFC East, with both Dallas and Philly currently sitting at 3-3.

Randall Cobb will likely be back. He was already considered a game-time decision yesterday and perhaps the Cowboys rested him because they felt confident about beating the Jets (whoops!) without him.

We have yet to hear the latest on Amari Cooper. One outlet reported that he was in "significant pain" following yesterday's game, but that could just be soreness from a contusion rather than any kind of major injury. More is sure to come on Amari's availability in the coming days.

Another positive looking ahead to Sunday is the Eagles' poor pass defense, which is currently giving up about 280 yards per game through the air. That puts them in the bottom five of NFL teams currently.

If Dallas does have to take on Philadelphia without their number-one receiver, at least yesterday's game gave Tavon Austin and Cedrick Wilson a chance to put in some work with Dak Prescott in a tough situation.

Even more importantly, they were able to deliver when called upon. We'll see if this week's game brings the same opportunities.


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