With the Dallas Cowboys roster shaking itself up as it has across the early free agency wave, opportunity arises, but who is poised for a breakout campaign?
The Dallas Cowboys have found a way to keep themselves busy across the beginning of the new NFL league year and the earliest waves of NFL free agency. While they have been busy signing players such as defensive end Aldon Smith, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, or safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to name a few.
The Cowboys have let a few more slip from their grasps. While the additions of Clinton-Dix, McCoy, Smith, and others should account for the production lost from the exodus of defensive end Robert Quinn, safety Jeff Heath, and defensive tackle Maliek Collins, there’s still a major hole to fill on the offensive side of the ball.
Slot receiver Randall Cobb jumped ship during free agency for the other team in the Lone Star State, the Houston Texans. At first glance and although it’s not a bad idea, free agent wideout Dez Bryant may be a decent option to fill that void. But the veteran receiver wouldn’t do it in exactly the same manner that Cobb did it. Is there anyone on the roster that could?
That’s a question worth finding out. And I believe running back Tony Pollard can be that player and that’s why he’s poised for a breakout sophomore season in 2020.
With Cobb missing, the Cowboys will need that quick twitch, gadgety, dual-threat kind of guy in the lineup. Pollard fits that mold perfectly and maybe even more than Cobb did.
While Cobb excelled in these roles at the pro level, open field plays, gadget plays, screen plays, in the open field in the return game, setting up in the backfield, setting up in the slot, or setting up and making plays anywhere along the line of scrimmage between the wideouts, he became that after being a quarterback collegiately early on at Kentucky.
Not only has Pollard been doing this all of his life, but he actually filled dual roles as a running back and receiver while in college himself at Memphis. This is the first reason he is poised for a breakout this year, because he was practically tailor-made to fill the role that was voided by Randall Cobb.
The second reason is a segue off of the first reason, but on a deeper level. One of the reasons that Cobb became who he is as a player and has been able to make that particular role what it is in today’s NFL is because his coach at the time in Green Bay gave him the opportunity and had the confidence in him to do so. That coach is now the head man in Dallas.
Mike McCarthy is the guy that helped Randall Cobb become a household name, which points to two things. He loves having a guy with that skill set at his disposal and when he does, he knows how to get the maximum output out of them. That is the second reason why Pollard’s bound to have a breakout year this upcoming season.
The last reason is logistical and strategic all at the same time. Especially with the sudden retirement of star center Travis Frederick, the Dallas Cowboys may not be able to or as comfortable with pounding the rock up the middle on the ground this season or at least not a ton early on.
This means that they will only try to get their playmakers, such as Tony Pollard, the ball more on the edges in space. With a plethora of plays such as those at his disposal from an opportunity perspective, he is bound to overachieve.
This isn’t to say that he will start to take away from Ezekiel Elliott‘s touches, as they are two different players with two different styles. What I would insinuate though is that you should get used to the idea of seeing more of them on the field together, which would only serve to maximize both of their effectiveness.
No matter which way you look at it, Pollard’s skill set will be much needed this year without Cobb in the fold. With McCarthy at the helm and with necessity calling for it, he should also receive a ton of opportunity to display that skill set. This is why Pollard is poised for a breakout year.