Mike McCarthy: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard are “definitely a tandem”

USA TODAY Sports

In past seasons, the Cowboys have seemingly looked at Ezekiel Elliott as their primary running back with Tony Pollard more of a change-of-pace back.

But entering 2022, that is no longer the case.

In his Wednesday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said he sees both of his team’s top backs as capable of handling a full workload.

“Oh I think they both hold their own,” McCarthy said. “I look at both of those guys as No. 1 runners, or however you want to categorize it. Tony can play. I think when you look at running backs — I know how I define them — [it’s about] their ability to play on all three downs, and Zeke and Tony both have that ability. Zeke’s done it his whole career. So I think they’re definitely a tandem and that’s obviously a focal point for us.”

Elliott started all 17 of Dallas’ games in 2021, rushing for 1,002 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 287 yards with two TDs.

Pollard was on the field for just 30 percent of Dallas’ offensive snaps but still registered 719 yards rushing with two touchdowns plus 39 catches for 337 yards. He was third on the team behind Elliott and receiver CeeDee Lamb with 1,056 yards from scrimmage.

While the Cowboys running backs currently work as a tandem, it’s likely the last year Elliott and Pollard will be on the roster together. Elliott’s guaranteed money is up after the 2022 season. A fourth-round pick in 2019, Pollard’s rookie contract is over following the year.

16 responses to “Mike McCarthy: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard are “definitely a tandem”

  1. At this point it’s possible that Pollard is the better back. He certainly is already in terms of value. But since McCarthy’s job is so clearly on the line(he’s got to win at least one playoff game) he probably will give Zeke the lion’s share of work. Dak currently seems more comfortable when Zeke is at RB, but that might change. I just hope McCarthy resists the urge for anymore QB sneaks when there is more than a yard or less to be gained!

  2. Good thing they gave Zeke that ridiculous five year contract and all that money… and Pollard is still the better RB

  3. Cowboys just lost Tyron for the year, Zeke will see the majority of the field for his pass protection. They may get Pollard more touches than before as he is more dynamic as a playmaker but he’s leagues behind Zeke in pass protection…

  4. Jerry a few weeks ago said Elliott would be the main focus of the running game, whatever the head coach says is irrelevant

  5. If only we had the Cowboys management on my Raiders. They have screwed up our one two punch again this year by releasing Drake and Josh Jacobs is a top 23 RB in the league.

    It’s gonna be a long season in Vegas.

  6. I don’t think this is what Jerruh had in mind when he signed Zeke to a 6 year $90 million dollar contract. Perfect example of why you don’t give low character guys that kind of money.

  7. Who blocks better on pass plays? Tie that together with around 5 yards per carry average and that answers the question of who is the premiere back on any team. The fact that both need to put up good numbers to benefit their next contracts bodes well for the Cowboys’ run game potential.

  8. Two running backs so good, people openly question which is number one. I wish the Eagles had that problem.

  9. You guys keep taking shots at Jerry for giving Zeke all of that money, but he has made up for it by refusing to spend any money in free agency. Sure the offensive line is in disrepair and they have one proven WR, but at 9-7 Jerry is still gonna get some glory hole.

  10. Sorry, but the Steelers have the best running back tandem in the NFL, hands down. The Cowboys do deserve an honorable mention tho.

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