(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into the 2022 season. Today, the staff writers discuss running back Tony Pollard's role entering his fourth season as the backup to Ezekiel Elliott.)
10) What Should Tony Pollard's Role Look Like?
Kyle Youmans: Pollard has made this question easy to answer over the last two seasons. When he's been given more responsibility, he's provided more results. So, give him a bigger role in the offense this season and see if he can keep delivering more results. He tallied 130 carries in 2021 after having 101 a year prior. He rewarded Dallas by upping his total from 435 rushing yards to 719 in just one year and his receiving yards from 193 to 337. The ideal role would be if Kellen Moore pushed a significant increase to between 150-175 carries, which would open his ability as a receiver as well.
Rob Phillips: More touches. He's earned it and the Cowboys need it from him. That's no knock against Ezekiel Elliott, who's still the starter and the most complete running back on the team, pass protection (which does matter) included. But this is the right time for Pollard to be more involved in the offense, meaning a moderate uptick in touches per game as a rusher and receiver. In past years, yeah, I agree there was only one ball for Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Jason Witten and Dalton Schultz. Times have changed. Cooper and Witten are no longer here. Gallup is coming back from a significant knee injury and quite possibly won't be ready for the start of the season. And Pollard took a step forward with a career season in 2021. His versatility isn't a luxury for the offense anymore – it's a necessity.
Mickey Spagnola: Much like last year's, assuming Ezekiel Elliott is fully recovered from the sprained posterior cruciate ligament he suffered in the fourth game of the season. And from the offseason look of things, he has. A healthy Zeke makes these guys one of the NFL's best 1-2 punches, especially when spotting Pollard, his speed catching defenses off-guard when not seeing a steady dose. And still want Pollard returning kickoffs. Has a heckuva knack. So, if the Cowboys want to expand his role, throw the ball more to Pollard in space, especially in two-back sets, and if the Cowboys struggle finding a legit third receiver early in the season with Michael Gallup still recovering from his knee surgery, then start using Pollard out of the slot. Or simply throw to him out of the backfield, a la Carolina with Christian McCaffrey, who when healthy caught 58 passes in 2019.