Does McCarthy’s past indicate Cowboys will pass to Tony Pollard more?

Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Up until now, the Cowboys offense has been a blend of Kellen Moore and Mike McCarthy. Moore,  a carry over from the previous regime, was a well-regarded offensive mind when McCarthy rolled into town.

But after back-to-back poor offensive efforts in the postseason, McCarthy decided to take full control himself in 2023. He now has full control and, for better or for worse, can do things his way. Most of the offseason has been spent discussing what “his way” is.

While we could sift through his various quotes this offseason and let him describe his intent, McCarthy is known for saying and doing two very different things. Things said in the spring and summer are rarely what he actually shows when autumn rolls around so instead of taking him for his word, let’s look at his track record.

Looking at how Mike McCarthy used RBs in the past, we can see how the Cowboys might use Tony Pollard in the passing game.

On McCarthy’s old Green Bay squads he passed to different RBs at different volumes. We dive in…

Looking at Green Bay

Ahman Green was a quick and shifty RB for Green Bay back in the Mike Holmgren days. A true west coach RB, Green offered big plays outside of the traffic and was a major part of the passing game.

While McCarthy and Green only crossed paths in 2006, his usage offers insight as to how frequently McCarthy targets his RBs. In 2006, Green saw 63 receptions (3.3 p/g)  in McCarthy’s offense.

In 2007, the Packers took a committee approach, with Ryan Grant and Vernand Morency taking the biggest roles. They averaged 2.0 and 2.3 receptions per game, respectively.

instead of taking him for his word, let’s look at his track record.

In 2008, Brandon Jackson was the receiving specialist, leading the RB group with 2.3 receptions per game. In 2009, no one even cracked 2.0. In 2010, the Super Bowl seasons, it was Jackson again leading the team, this time with 2.7 (the highest since Green).

From there it hovered between 2.2 and 2.8 receptions/game until it arguably maxed out in 2016 when Ty Montgomery (2.9) and James Starks (2.1) combined for 5 receptions per game.

Cowboys take-away points

Based on his past, McCarthy doesn’t use his RBs as pass-catchers to a very high degree. Ahman Green was the only one to safely clear 3.0 r/g and most hovered around the low 2’s.

But it’s clear, some RBs demand more receptions than others and it’s no coincidence Green and Ty Montgomery (a converted WR) were the most oft-targeted RBs. It stands to reason, since Pollard’s skillset best resembles that of Green and Montgomery, he’s in store for a similar workload in 2023.

Over the past two seasons, Pollard has averaged 2.6 and 2.4 r/g, respectively. But again, that was with Kellen Moore as the offensive shot-caller. McCarthy is taking the opportunity today to do things his way. Concessions no longer need to be made and changes will undeniably be made.

Tony Pollard is in elite company. light. Must Read

Will that include a heavier workload for Pollard running and/or catching the ball? Based on McCarthy’s history, to some degree, yes.

  • Published on 06/17/2023 at 12:32 PM
  • Last updated at 06/17/2023 at 12:38 PM