Cowboys coach hints RB3 role will be more important than fans think
There has been much debate about the Dallas Cowboys running back group and who deserves to carry the most snaps. Many fans want to see Tony Pollard get more playing time after his breakout year. But, for now, the RB1 still remains former first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott. People like Jerry Jones, who is spending several million dollars to keep the seventh-year back on his roster, feel Elliott needs to be the priority.
A recent conversation between Patrik Walker (a writer for DallasCowboys.com) and Cowboys RB coach Skip Peete brings about a different sentiment. Peete says he likes both running backs and knows they both have individual, unique skill sets:
"“We want to try to maximize that as much as we can. It’s not going to be a pitch count [on Zeke]. But I think it’s going to be a [fluid] count because they’re going to share time. It’s going to naturally work out that way. They’re both going to play, depending on the games and situations, how much are they both going to be involved at the same time – so I think that aspect will work itself out naturally.”“I don’t think you ever go into a game [putting Elliott on a pitch count]. I think you say, ‘Hey, we’re going to utilize both of these guys.’ Some game plans are probably going to be more with both of them playing more than the other, who knows?"
This is arguably the first time in the several months of the Pollard vs. Elliott debate that we have heard someone from the Cowboys staff say the two will share time. Mike McCarthy previously told the press they were wrong for saying Pollard is underused. We know how Jones feels. Peete’s quote makes it seem like this team might finally use the two interchangeably and even together for the first time since Pollard joined the squad three years ago.
The 24-year NFL coach compared the combo of these two Cowboys backs to pairs like Marion Barber and Julius Jones, Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown, and Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray.
He also mentioned one quite surprising caveat. The coach said that given how much he hopes to use his two main guys, the RB3 position will be an important factor for 2022.
Cowboys RB coach suggests split usage between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard and says the RB3 position will be important
Peete said the third running back on the depth chart will likely play more than the average RB3 due to how much Pollard and Elliott are used. Right now, the guys fighting for that position are Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis, and Aaron Shampklin. One of those guys will serve to keep fresh legs available at all times. The preseason games will be critical for those three competitors.
But, if Peete had to pick one now, he’d go with Dowdle.
"“They’re all challenging for that role [of RB3]. But if we had to play a game tomorrow? Rico has really shown that he’s matured a lot and has a complete understanding of what we’re doing. If you would’ve asked me two years ago, I would’ve probably said it’s wide open.”"
It feels like the job is Dowdle’s to lose. The third-year back did not play at all last year due to a hip injury sustained in August of 2021. Now, he’s poised for a comeback and a supposedly important role in this depth chart.
The coach seems to have a good stance on what he wants to see for the running back game. At the end of the day, though, Kellen Moore is the one who makes the calls. Fans would certainly prefer to see more of the split usage Peete is suggesting.