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Ezekiel Elliott gone into the 2021 NFL season averaging 19.9 carries per game during his five-year NFL career. He twice led the league in complete rushing attempts and also rushing yards, and also in each of his first three seasons, the led the organization in rushing yards per game.

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That said, Elliott"s stats v two main in 2021 have actually raised some eyebrows. The Cowboys" star has actually averaged simply 13.5 carries per game, and also he has yielded snaps to his teammate Tony Pollard.


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Considering that Elliott is start the first season the a six-year, $90 million extension he signed v the Cowboys back in 2019, the time of his decrease in touch is receiving scrutiny. However, Elliott laughed turn off criticism the Dallas" intake of him with two games.


"You hear it, but what really matters is what"s going on in this building. They"re no the persons signing the checks, they"re no the ones sending out the wires, so i don"t think that matters," Elliott said with a laugh Thursday, every Cowboys.com.

Elliott is right, however why have his touches diminished so sharply? and is there a path for Pollard to overtake that in a bigger role? Here"s whatever you must know about the Cowboys" backfield with two mainly of the 2021 NFL season.

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Why Ezekiel Elliott and also Tony Pollard are splitting carries

Elliott and Pollard sharing touches and playing time is all part of the Cowboys" backfield plan, together Elliott explained. The team desires to store both players "fresh", and Elliott doesn"t seem come mind the little bit of extra rest.

"We feed off each other. We save each other fresh," Elliott said, every Cowboys.com. "We want to view the best in each other. Us do every little thing we deserve to to push each other, to an obstacle each other, to do each other better, maybe if there"s something i could assist him that"s walking to help his game or something he can assist me that"s walk to assist my game. We simply push each to become better players."

That fresh should aid Elliott. He confirmed some indications of slowing under last season, together he recorded a career-low 4.0 yards per carry and also 6.5 yards every reception. Few of that was due to the Cowboys" abysmal quarterback situation after Dak Prescott"s injury, yet even once Prescott was healthy, Elliott was averaging simply 4.1 yards per carry.

So much in 2021, Elliott has averaged simply 3.9 yards per carry, yet that consists of a game against the Buccaneers" fourth-ranked operation defense. In a larger sample size, the number have to improve.

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Elliott likewise acknowledged that his downhill style is various than Pollard, who he described as "faster" and "shifty." as such, mix them up helps the Cowboys" offense give opposing defenses different looks.

"I think it helps a lot just since we have various run styles," Elliott said. "We"re going come run different runs differently and the defense is walk to have to fit those operation differently. For this reason if they gain used come me pounding it because that 10 plays and also then TP come in and they"re provided to installation the runs that way.

"But TP is a faster, an ext shifty back, therefore he might fit a operation a small different. That keeps the defense guessing. That switches that up. It"s a adjust of pace, and also as you men saw, it works well."

Indeed, the has functioned for the Cowboys, and Pollard"s stats through two gamings have been particularly impressive.

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Tony Pollard"s stats vs. Ezekiel Elliott"s stats

So far, Pollard has actually been the an ext efficient that the two Dallas backs. He ranks No. 1 in the NFL in yards every carry amongst running backs with 10+ carries. He likewise grades out together the NFL"s No. 1 running back, per Pro Football emphasis (though the hasn"t met the minimum snap threshold to qualify because that PFF"s official leaderboard). 

Elliott has actually been less efficient than Pollard, however he has actually still been abundant in Dallas" offense. That has likewise played a vital role in pass protection, together he has actually officially played ripe pass-blocking snaps compared to just 4 for Pollard.

Here"s a look at at how the two running backs compare in each significant statistical category.


PlayerPercent of snaps playedCarriesRushing yardsYards per carryRushing TDsReceptionsReceiving yardsReceiving TDs
Ezekiel Elliott78.1271043.914320
Tony Pollard28.1161237.717600

Again, this is a tiny sample size and also it"s worth noting the 11 the Elliott"s tote came versus a stout Buccaneers" run defense when Pollard had just three carries versus them. However, Pollard has absolutely put self on the map with his manufacturing so far this season. As lengthy as he proceeds to create at this clip, he will certainly take part touches far from Elliott.

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Why Ezekiel Elliott is tho the Cowboys" lead back

The Cowboys still appear to view Elliott as the team"s command back. After all, he has actually played nearly triple the amount of breaks that Pollard has (Elliott has played 114 when Pollard has actually logged 41).

Pollard has received a touch ~ above 56 percent that his snaps while Elliott has on simply 27.2 percent of his. What does the mean? It seems that the Cowboys favor to usage Elliott much more as a decoy off play-action or together a pass blocker than Pollard. That provides sense due to the fact that Elliott has been a successful pass blocker in 2021, as plenty of saw against the Buccaneers in mainly 1.


"Every pat I’m provided a job. My job is to execute my task to the best of the ability," Elliott claimed after the game. "I take it a many pride in being well-rounded. Blitz pickup is huge for a to run back. You need to keep the quarterback safe and also untouched."

Prescott is returning from an injury that expense him many of the 2021 NFL season. As lengthy as Elliott proceeds to store him protected, the will proceed to out-snap Pollard top top a weekly basis. Simply don"t it is in surprised if the actually touches space split as Dallas watch to get Elliott some under time and take advantage of Pollard"s explosive ability.

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That should help the veteran Elliott remain fresher deeper right into the 2021 campaign.