Numbers validate Tony Pollard as a lead RB, will it be for Dallas?

The Cowboys’ top running back from 2022, Tony Pollard, is a free agent this off-season. The man who was arguably Dallas’ offensive MVP is likely to command top-of-the-market money and the Cowboys need to decide whether or not they can afford to keep him, or afford to lose him. Complicating matters is the uncertain status of Ezekiel Elliott. The long-time lead back in Dallas has reached the unavoidable point in his NFL career where the production may no longer match the compensation.

Releasing Elliott in a post-June cut would save the Cowboys $10,900,000 but leave an enormous hole at running back. Dallas is no doubt considering placing the franchise tag on Pollard in order to keep their most explosive weapon, and the tag would cost them just under that level of savings, $10.09 million.

There’s concern about replacing one of the most durable running backs in the NFL with someone who’s never averaged more than 13 carries per game. While the concern is valid, there’s reason to believe Pollard is up to the challenge and far more up to the task than often credited.

Pollard, 25, is in the prime of his career as an NFL running back. Although he suffered a significant lower leg injury suffered in the playoffs, Pollard is expected to make a full recovery.

The 6-foot, 209-pound running back is well built and far from the undersized reputation many incorrectly bestow upon the former Memphis product. His 722 yards gained after contact ranked fifth in the NFL last season and speaks to his ability to excel, even after initial contact.

He was sixth in broken+missed tackle percentage (20.2), while facing an average of 6.9 defenders in the box (eighth most in the NFL). He faced the 10th-highest stacked-front rate last season and still maintained a top-five breakaway run rate, per player profiler.

While Pollard didn’t carry the ball 20+ times per game last season,  neither did anyone else not named Derrick Henry. The workhorse running back is dead in the NFL. Teams have learned it’s often more efficient to have multiple backs running the ball than one dominant entity carrying the load.

Not only does it diversify risk by splitting the responsibility, but it maximizes freshness which directly impacts explosive runs. Defenses breakdown regardless of who is carrying the ball so the idea “he gets better the more carries he gets” is more folklore than fact.

Whether a running back should be re-signed to top-of-the-market prices (including franchise tag) is a debate for another day. What shouldn’t be debated is whether Pollard is capable of being an RB1 in the NFL. He’s proven he can handle heavy box counts and early contact and still produce an elite explosive rate.

Even with the expected shift to more inside zone running in 2023, Pollard should be able to fill a lead role next season, provided players like Malik Davis or maybe even Ezekiel Elliott (at a reduced salary) can be complementary pieces.

Related Posts

Cᴏwbᴏyѕ ѕafety Jayгᴏп Keaгѕe will пᴏt weaг Nᴏ. 0 afteг all

Cһaпɡe ᴏf plaпѕ; Jayгᴏп Keaгѕe wᴏп’t һaᴠe a ᴄһaпɡe ᴏf jeгѕey пumbeгѕ iп 2023. Tһe Cᴏwbᴏyѕ ѕafety һad beeп pгeᴠiᴏuѕly aппᴏuпᴄed aѕ tһe fiгѕt playeг iп fгaпᴄһiѕe…

Cᴏwbᴏyѕ Newѕ: Tyгᴏп ᴄlueѕ ᴄᴏmiпɡ, fᴏгeᴄaѕtiпɡ Diɡɡѕ’ eхteпѕiᴏп, wһeгe dᴏeѕ Dak гaпk?

OTАѕ will feel a lᴏt mᴏгe гeal tᴏ faпѕ aпd tһᴏѕe ᴏutѕide Tһe Staг ᴄᴏme Tһuгѕday; tһat’ѕ wһeп media typeѕ will be allᴏwed tᴏ watᴄһ pгaᴄtiᴄe fᴏг…

Pᴏteпtial Ezekiel Elliᴏtt-Cᴏwbᴏyѕ гeuпiᴏп makeѕ peгfeᴄt ѕeпѕe at tһiѕ pᴏiпt

Tһe Dallaѕ Cᴏwbᴏyѕ ᴏpted пᴏt tᴏ make a biɡ mᴏᴠe iп aп effᴏгt tᴏ bгiпɡ iп a гuппiпɡ baᴄk пeхt tᴏ пᴏw-ѕtaгteг Tᴏпy Pᴏllaгd tһiѕ ᴏffѕeaѕᴏп. Аfteг…

Cᴏwbᴏyѕ’ Miᴄaһ Paгѕᴏпѕ jᴏiпѕ team fᴏг fiгѕt day ᴏf OTАѕ

Tһe Bᴏyѕ aгe baᴄk… ᴏп tһe pгaᴄtiᴄe field. Tueѕday maгked tһe fiгѕt ᴏп-tһe-field wᴏгk fᴏг tһe Cᴏwbᴏyѕ- bᴏtһ гᴏᴏkieѕ aпd ᴠeteгaпѕ- ᴏf tһiѕ yeaг’ѕ ᴏffѕeaѕᴏп pгᴏɡгam. Nᴏ…

Cowboys 53-man roster, practice squad prediction ahead of OTAs

The Dallas Cowboys begin their offseason work in earnest on Monday. The club has been through Phase One and Phase Two of the allowable offseason schedule up…

Six-time Pro Bowl WR places Cowboys star on top-five list

Raiders star wideout Davante Adams gave Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb a huge compliment, listing him as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. During a recent interview with…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *