Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard?
Perhaps that is the wrong question for Dallas Cowboys fans to be asking.
The Cowboys offense has the fourth-most total yards in the NFL after two games. And they’ve done it two entirely different ways.
So maybe ask this question instead: Is the Cowboys offense better when Elliott and Pollard share the carries?
“Every week we’ve all got the same common goal, and that’s the goal to win football games,” said Elliott, who has 104 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries through two games. “However we’ve got to do that, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Cowboys (1-1) host the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) at 7:15 p.m. Monday at AT&T Stadium.
Both running backs say their differing styles complement the other. And that could be a critical factor in the success of the offense in 2021.
With Elliott’s physical toughness and ability to wear down defenders, and Pollard’s quickness and ability to make plays in space, it forces defenses to account for both, all the while defending against Dak Prescott’s bevy of pass options. It’s not just the receiving and tight end corps, but Pollard and Elliott catching passes, too.
So it’s not a question of the offense favoring Elliott over Pollard, or vice versa, but offensive coordinator Kellen Moore favoring a whatever-it-takes type view of his options.
“It’s a big factor in this offense and the progress of our offense just over time, just both of us being able to go in there and make plays off each other, feed off of the momentum,” said Pollard, who leads the team with 123 yards on 16 carries in two games. “It’s big for the team.”
Pollard and Elliott are competitive, but not with each other.
“We’re two different styles of running back. It’s big and it’s important, especially when you can have both of those guys on the same team,” Pollard said. “They just feed off each other. Nobody is competing against the next guy. We’re both going out there, doing our own thing.”
Elliott is fine with fewer carries, as long as the offense is working.
“I think it helps a lot. Just because we have different run styles, so we’re going to run different runs differently and the defense is going to have to fit those runs differently,” Elliott said. “So if they get used to me pounding them for 10 plays and then TP comes in there, they’re used to fitting the runs that way.
“But TP is a faster, more shifty back so he might fit a run a little bit different. So I mean it keeps a defense guessing. It switches it up. It’s a change of pace and as you guys saw, it works well.”
Both enjoy Moore’s willingness to try multiple looks and imaginative plays, all designed to keep defenses guessing.
“I’ve got complete trust in Kellen and his play calling, his game plan going in and the adjustments he makes during the game,” Elliott said. “We’ve probably got more trick plays than you guys will ever see. We probably rep more than you guys will know about. It’s not something that just happens out of the ordinary. We’ve probably got one or two trick, [or] unorthodox plays going into the game every week.”
Pollard said the first two weeks are just a taste of how good he thinks this offense can be.
“As long as we don’t stop ourselves, we don’t see who can,” he said. “As long as we just keep moving forward.”
Elliott feels the same way. He and Pollard have the potential to be one of the best running back duos in the NFL, he said.
“I think we’ve got a good brotherhood,” he said of his relationship with Pollard. “I think we feed off each other. We keep each other fresh. We want to see the best for each other. So we’re going to do everything we can to push each other, to challenge each other, to make each other better players.”
As for who’s getting the most touches? Elliott genuinely appears unfazed by critics who question his production despite the disparity in contracts. In fact, he got a big chuckle out of the question after Thursday’s practice. He’s laughing all the way to be bank.
“You hear it but what really matters is what’s going on in this building,” Elliott said. “So I mean they’re not the one signing the checks. They’re not the ones sending the wires. So I don’t think it matters.”