Dallas Cowboys: Tony Polllard
Most fans will quickly point to the fact that Tony Pollard was on this team last year, so how is this any different. We have to ask ourselves, was Tony really a part of the matchup last year against the 49ers?
A better question, was the running game a part of the Cowboys strategy last year? The stats in that playoff game would suggest a “no” to both of those questions but we’ll focus on Pollard in this article.
Mindsets can be a very hard thing to shift for players, coaches or even the everyday worker in the workplace. It has been no different for the Dallas Cowboys last year. They continued to go back to the well hoping and praying that Ezekiel Elliott would return to the 2016 form. Unfortunately for Dallas, that did not occur. It didn’t occur in the regular season and definitely not in the playoff matchup against the 49ers.
Ezekiel Elliott was the Cowboys leading rusher with a measly 12 carries for 31 yards. Consistent with the regular season, Tony was following as a distant second with 4 carries for 14 years and 2 receptions for 12 yards.
The 49ers defense played a substantial role in stopping the Cowboys run game and that defense will rear its ugly head again. Only this time, the Cowboys will be employing a different Tony Pollard with a different level of confidence.
Dallas has finally stepped out of their own way and accepted the fact that the most relevant and effective runner on the team is TP20. After an amazing season where he shared the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott, he was still able to amass 1007 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Against Tampa Bay in the wildcard game, he added 15 carries for 77 yards with 3 receptions. While the 49ers have McCaffery, Dallas has Pollard, and they are not afraid to use him this year.