Dallas Cowboys mid-season offensive MVP: Tony Pollard

. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

Eight games in and coming out of the bye week, we’re essentially at the halfway point of the Dallas Cowboys season. What better time than now to appreciate the most valuable offensive player thus far?

Tony Pollard has been the offensive darling of Cowboys Nation this season. The fourth year vet finally got his crack at the lead role in Week 8 and he did not disappoint. Scampering for 131 yards on over nine yards per carry, Pollard exceeded the enormous expectations of even his staunchest supporters.

Tony Pollard has been a major factor all season for the Dallas Cowboys offense and easily wins the first half offensive MVP award.

On the season, Tony Pollard leads the team with 506 yards rushing. Amongst all NFL running backs, he’s third in total expected points earned. Keep in mind, that’s all as a part-time player. These cumulative totals are supported by efficiency and context as well…

With a RYOE (rushing yards over expected) of 1.13, Pollard ranks second in the entire NFL this season. This indicates he’s not just taking what his linemen are giving him but he’s adding to it as much as any RB in the league.

Teams are loading up the box too. Pollard is facing an average of 7.1 defenders in the box this season, which is the fourth most in the NFL. His current breakaway run rate is 11.1% (3rd in the NFL) making him a threat to produce an explosive play at any given moment.


Running behind the same offensive line as Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard has outperformed his mentor in just about every way possible. His impact is among the biggest of the team and his positive EPA is a rarity for the running back position in today’s NFL.

For a RB2 to be the offensive MVP is extremely abnormal. But with Dak Prescott missing more games than he played and no standout pass-catcher to point at early, it’s Tony Pollard almost by default.

Cooper Rush helped keep the team afloat with Dak out, but he in no way can be in the running for MVP. He produced bottom-10 efficiency numbers and bottom-5 passing totals as QB1. He didn’t win games, but rather stayed out of the way so the defense and running game could win games.

Pollard is facing an average of 7.1 defenders in the box this season(4th most in the NFL) and his current breakaway run rate is 11.1% (3rd in the NFL)

CeeDee Lamb has been fine as the Dallas Cowboys WR1 this year but he has not been a player who puts the team on his back when the going get’s tough. He’s still searching for that signature game and his inconsistency is still an issue.

Zack Martin is his usual brilliant self and he’s by far the best offensive player on the Dallas Cowboys roster, but he’s a guard so his positional importance is limited and doesn’t realistically factor into the MVP conversation.

There’s really no question Tony Pollard is the offensive MVP of the first half. For as fun as that is declare, it’s something that cannot continue going forward.

The offensive MVP in the second half of this season needs to be Dak Prescott. That doesn’t mean the Cowboys suddenly revert to a pass-happy attack, it just means the most important player on the field (the QB1) is consistently posting clean games.

Since coming back, that’s exactly what Dak’s been. Even with that sloppy first half against Detroit, Dak has been statistically elite being an average-volume passer. He doesn’t need the 400-yard games to be important, he needs to move the chains, produce explosives, and avoid turnovers and he’ll be in line for the next MVP award we hand out at season’s end.

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Thank you Tony Pollard. We never would have predicted it.