Progress Report: Tony Pollard’s Super-Efficient ’21

(Editor’s note: With more than 20 players ready for unrestricted free agency, the Cowboys’ roster is destined to look very different in 2022. Still, a large percentage of their roster is already in place, and they’ll have a lot work to be done to improve on last season’s 12-5 record. In the coming weeks, staff will be evaluating players already under contract, looking at their past performance and future prospects. today we continue the series with running back Tony Pollard.)

Good: Just as the Cowboys hoped when they drafted him in the fourth round in 2019, Pollard provided a bit of everything on offense and on special teams. In his third NFL season, he set career highs in rushing yards (719), catches (39) and receiving yards (337) and also recorded his first kickback touchdown. sending (100 yards against the Raiders at Thanksgiving). An effective change of pace rusher behind Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard averaged 5.5 yards per carry for the season, fifth-best in the league and second-best among running backs. He also had 17 10-plus-yard carries in 2021 on just 130 carries (13.1%), the 11th-highest 10-yard rush percentage in the league (minimum 100 carries).

The bad: The Elliott-Pollard tandem was particularly effective early in the season before Elliott suffered a PCL injury in Week 4 that hampered him throughout the stretch. In the last 12 games after the bye week, including the first-round playoff loss to San Francisco, the Cowboys have averaged just 100.8 yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry. They gained just 77 yards on 21 carries against the 49ers. It’s not all about the running backs, of course. Granted, the offensive line struggled with the pre-snap movement of opposing fronts and didn’t win the line of scrimmage with as much consistency.

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