With Dak Prescott under center, the Dallas Cowboys have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. Before Dak’s season-ending injury, the franchise quarterback was on pace to throw for over 6,000 yards and break/set league records along the way.
The Dallas Cowboys have a high-octane offense because it boasts one of the most talented offensive rosters in the league. They have one of the best groups of pass catchers in the NFL with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Cederick Wilson, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz.
Then they have former NFL rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott and an explosive change-of-pace back Tony Pollard carrying the running game. As prolific as the Dallas Cowboys are in the passing game, it’s the latter group of talent that needs to be unleashed and used in a different way to make the offense even more potent.
Now I know Zeke had statically his worst season as a pro, but Zeke was running behind a make-shift offensive line and playing with three different quarterbacks throughout the season. However, there wasn’t a decline with Pollard, who had several big runs last season as a backup running back. As a result, the majority of Dallas Cowboys fans believe Zeke has lost a step and much more since signing his massive contract.
With that being said, head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore need to find a creative way to not only combine Zeke’s and Pollard’s skill set, but to have them both on the field at the same time.
The Dallas Cowboys need to showcase both of their RBs on the field at the same time in order to maximize their effectiveness
Based off of perception alone, Pollard looked like the better and more polished back between the two last season. Pollard appeared to produce at a higher rate whenever he touched the ball. If Zeke can run for almost a thousand yards (979) behind backup offensive lineman, then why not design special packages that keep both of backs on the field at the same time to make life harder for defenses?
When it comes to receiving threats, both backs combined for 531 receiving yards on 80 receptions and three receiving touchdowns. Add their rushing touchdowns together (10), and the Dallas Cowboys have a total of 13 touchdowns from their running backs. That’s not a bad stat when you factor in the losses of Dak and a depleted offensive line.
This doesn’t mean that Dallas has to abandon the running game, but it means putting the offense in the best position to use all of its options with its best players.
With a better offensive line intact, Zeke easily surpasses the 1,000 yard mark and maybe receives a Pro Bowl bid. Therefore, imagine what Zeke and Pollard will do next year with Dak under center and an improved and injury-free offensive line? If Moore wants a head coaching job and if Big Mac wants to avoid the coaching “hot seat”, then it’s crucial for Zeke and Pollard to become lethal offensive weapons coming out of the backfield.
For example, Pollard is elusive, fast, and has a nose for the end zone. Pollard should be used like former Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles. The diminutive Sproles was a massive headache to cover whenever he caught a screen pass out of the backfield or running regular routes.
This is how Pollard should be used and to some extent so should Zeke. Look, it’s a proven fact that teams get more positive yards throwing the ball than running the ball on first or second down, regardless of how dominant the offensive line may be.
Opposing defenses need to be aware that not only do they have to worry about the Cowboys receiving corps, but also worrying about the threat of Zeke and Pollard, too. Defenses will think twice about stacking the box or blitzing if Pollard or Zeke is in the backfield.
Remember how Sproles used to torch Dallas’ defenses on screen passes?
The Dallas Cowboys love to run an 11 personnel package (one running back, one tight end, and three receivers) and it produces because of the talent on the field, but maybe the Cowboys should run a 21 or 22 personnel that require two running backs?
Of course, I’m not saying they should run the latter for an entire game, but rather the use of the 21 or 22 personnel at key stretches of the game. Or find a way for both backs to be on the field at the same time, even if that requires one of them being nothing but a decoy.
This doesn’t mean that Dallas has to abandon their style, but it means putting the offense in the best position to use all of its options with its best players. So if Dallas wants to run the ball, they already know that Pollard is capable of breaking off a clutch, long touchdown run like he did against the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers, both wins.
Yes, Zeke can do the same, too, even if its picking up some crucial first downs and wearing down opposing defenses in the fourth quarter. The Dallas Cowboys have the luxury of having a talented tandem that can do multiple things to make the offense even more lethal.
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Heck, Dallas’ high- powered offense might be its best defense.
In a pass-happy league, it makes sense to use your running backs more as receivers to give the offense a much needed advantage against opposing defenses. Dak under center makes this reality more realistic than ever.
Dallas should implement this blueprint because it will allow the passing game to open up the running game, whereas both backs can easily average four/five yards a carry.
That’s the positives of having versatile runners like Zeke and Pollard. A dynamic duo in the making.