It’s not quite a changing of the guard, but a shifting of momentum in the Dallas Cowboys backfield. A premeditated move, months in the making.
“Frankly ever since training camp,” Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones revealed, the team had plotted more touches for Tony Pollard, the dynamic understudy behind $90 million running back Ezekiel Elliott.
“That’s not necessarily because of Zeke,” Jones cautioned during a December 7 radio interview on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “We just want him to have the ball more.”
The plan is going swimmingly as Pollard has jumped from 8.1 touches per game in 2020 to 11.5 per game this season. Entering Week 14, the third-year pro ranks second to a dinged-up Elliott with 602 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 107 carries, though his yards-per-carry average (5.6) is significantly better than the former Pro Bowler’s (4.4).
Pollard, who’s also flashed home-run ability as a receiver and kick returner, led the team in ground yards (71) amid last Thursday’s win at New Orleans. His stat line included a 58-yard scamper to the end zone — nearly three times Elliott’s longest run this season (21 yards).
And that’s how committees are born.
“Going into games, relative to this time last year or even relative to the start of the season, we’ve planned on having Pollard touch the ball anywhere from five to 10 more times per game. So, that is the plan, and that is generally what you’re trying to do,” Jones added.
ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!
Moore Gives State of the Union
Whether due to injuries or inconsistencies, the Cowboys’ offense hasn’t performed to optimal level for the better part of two months. The unit’s topped 33 points just twice since its Week 7 bye, after previously reaching that mark in four consecutive games (Weeks 3-6). In a stunning turn of events, Dallas’ defense is doing the heavy lifting, keeping the club atop the NFC East entering the season’s stretch run.
In a not-so-stunning turn of events, those outside The Star are ratcheting up criticism that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore — whose playcalling, too, has come under fire — needed to answer for. Such as he did.
“I think we feel good about where we are,” Moore told reporters on Monday, December 6, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “It’s an NFL season. There’s gonna be highs, there’s gonna be lows. You go through these dips. It’s a long, long season. I think our guys understand that. You’re not going to go smooth sailing for (13 weeks).”
He added: “I feel great with where we’re at. Kind of getting those guys back into the groove. I think the importance of just having some continuity, practice together, spend time together, we got a great opportunity to get this thing going in a special way in December.”
Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Quinn: ‘Confidence Very High’ in Joseph
Lost in Trevon Diggs’ breakout and Anthony Brown’s quietly stellar campaigns is the development of second-round rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph, who’s made five appearances following a groin injury that delayed his Cowboys debut.
Joseph has notched only one tackle, one pass deflection, and a fumble recovery across 14 defensive snaps, otherwise contributing more to special teams (87 snaps). But he’s made a quick impression on coordinator Dan Quinn, whose confidence in the Kentucky product is “very high.”
“I think in the game I really tried to point out he (Joseph) and C.J. Goodwin especially. I thought they were, on the special teams side, real factors in this game as far as field position goes,” Quinn said Monday, December 6, via the official team website.
“So when his moment’s called, he’ll definitely be ready. Yeah, he had some setbacks to start off, just being injured and being away. But the fact is, you put moments like that together in the game, you build a lot of trust with your teammates, you build a lot of trust in the locker room just, ‘Hey, this guy, he’s really down to compete and help us win games.’ As a teammate, that’s what you’re looking for from a young guy, how can this guy help us win. Right now the way he was helping us win was covering … and it was certainly one that we were proud of in terms of that kind of effort.”