Dallas Cowboys must start utilizing NFL’s best running back tandem

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

It’s time the Dallas Cowboys take advantage of the best one-two punch in the league at running back with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

With Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys have one of the best running backs in the league (I don’t care what the NFL Top 100 says). In his four seasons as the Cowboys’ primary workhorse, Elliott has amassed over 5,400 rushing yards, eclipsing 1,300 yards in three of the seasons and winning the rushing title twice (2016, 2018).

But as we look around the league, the notion of a single running back carrying the load for a team is a dying concept. As the San Francisco 49ers proved last season, sometimes a multifaceted backfield is equally as hard to stop.

As teams look to extend the careers of their star players — especially at running back which is one of the most physically demanding positions — we’re starting to more of a committee approach to the position. At the very least, it’s imperative that a team have a formidable backup.

Whether it’s someone to offer a breather, sub in for injury, or simply present a change of pace to the defense, running back tandems are becoming quite popular around the league. The Cowboys are fortunate in that they have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott as well as one of the best tandems with the Tony Pollard behind him.

Now Pollard doesn’t get as much attention as he should simply because of the Cowboys’ more traditional approach to the position; Elliott still racked up 301 carries last season. Of course, that’s what you do when you have the second-highest-paid running back in the league on your roster.

But Pollard was incredibly effective in his limited playing time as a rookie. He rushed for 455 yards on just 86 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per attempt. He also caught 15 passes for 107 yards.

Pollard’s stats don’t exactly jump off the page when looking at them compared to other running backs simply because there’s not a huge sample size to go by; but as I previously wrote, the Cowboys have only begun to scratch the surface of what he has to offer. Pollard has the potential to become a dynamic threat in the passing game and he’s already proven effective in the run game — or at least capable enough to handle more than 86 carries in a season. It’s time to let him loose.

Ezekiel Elliott is as durable as running backs come. Unless it’s some sort of off-the-field incident, he’s usually playing on Sunday. But regardless of how much he wants to be fed, there’s only so much punishment the body can take at his position.

If the Cowboys want to keep their star running back healthy enough to see a return on that investment for years to come, they are going to need to start shifting some of the workload onto Pollard’s shoulders.

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Not every team has the luxury of having two capable running backs. The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best running backs in the league plus a very promising second-year-stud behind him. They both bring something unique to the offense and it would be remiss to not take advantage of their individual talents.