Ezekiel Elliott entered his five-year NFL career in the 2021 NFL season with 19.9 carry per game. He led the league twice in total rushing effort and in the racing yard, and in his first three seasons, he led the league in every game racing yard.
That said, Elliott’s figures in two weeks in 2021 have raised some eyebrows. The Cowboys star carries an average of just 13.5 per game, and he posed for pictures with his teammate Tony Pollard.
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Considering Elliott entering his first season in six years, the 90 90 million extension he signed with the Cowboys in 2019 is being scrutinized during his touch reduction. However, Elliott stopped criticizing the use of Dallas through two games.
“You hear it, but what’s really going on in this building is really important. They’re not signing checks, they’re not sending cables, so I don’t think it’s important,” Elliott said with a smile Thursday, to Cowboys.com.
Elliott is right, but why has his touch diminished so quickly? And is there a way to get Pollard out of a bigger role? Here’s what you need to know about Cowboys Backfield in the two weeks of the 2021 NFL season.
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Why Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard split Carrie
Elliott and Pollard’s touches and play were part of the Cowboys ’backfield plan, as Elliott explained. The team wants to keep both players “fresh,” and Elliott doesn’t seem to mind the extra rest.
“We feed each other. We keep each other fresh,” Elliott told Cowboys.com. “We want to see the best in each other. We try our best to push each other, to challenge each other, to make each other better, maybe if I can help him who can help his game or do something. Help me. Do what will help my game.
That freshness will help Elliott. He showed some signs of slowing down last season, as he recorded a career-low 4.0 yards per carry and a reception per 6.5 yards. Some of this was due to the Cowboys ’extreme quarterback situation after a postcourt injury, but when Prescott was healthy, Elliott averaged just 4.1 yards per carry.
So far in 2021, Elliott averaged just 9.9 yards per carry, but that included a game against the Buccaneers’ fourth-ranked run defense. In the case of a larger sample, that number should be improved.
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Elliott also admits that his descent style is different from Pollard’s, which he described as “quick” and “revenge”. For example, mixing them up gives the Cowboys ’offense a different look to the opposing defense.
“I think it helps a lot just because we have different run styles,” Elliott said. “We’re going to run different runs differently and the defense has to fit those runs differently.
“But the TP is a faster, more shaky one, so he might run a little differently. It guesses the defense. It changes it. It changes the pace, and as you can see, it works well.”
In fact, it worked for the Cowboys, and Pollard’s stats through the two games were particularly impressive.
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Tony Pollard vs. Ezekiel Elliott
So far, Pollard has been more efficient than the two Dallas backs. He is the No. 1 running back in the NFL with 10+ carry backs. He is trailing No. 1 in the NFL, in every pro football focus (although he has not met the minimum snap threshold to qualify for the PFF’s official leaderboard).
Elliott was less skilled than Pollard, but he was still productive in the Dallas offense. He has also played a key role in pass protection, as he has officially played nine pass-blocking snaps compared to Pollard’s four.
See here how the two moving backs in each major statistical section compare.
|Players||Playing snap||Carries||Rushing yard||Per carrying yard||Accelerated TD||Reception||Yards received||TD acceptance|
Again, this is the size of a small sample and it is noteworthy that Elliott’s 11 carry came against a strong Buccaneer run defense while Pollard carried only three against them. However, Pollard has certainly put himself on the map with his production so far this season. As long as he continues to produce in this clip, he will take some touches from Elliott.
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Why Ezekiel Elliott still returns to the Cowboys’ leadership
The Cowboys still seem to see Elliott as the team’s leader. After all, he played almost three times the amount of Pollard’s snaps (Elliott played 114 and Pollard logged 41).
Pollard got 5 percent of his snap touch and Elliott got only 2.2.2 percent of it. What does that mean? The Cowboys seem to prefer to use Elliott more to stop play-action or as a pass blocker than Pollard. This is understandable since Elliott became a successful pass blocker in 2021, as many have seen against the Buccaneers in Week 1.
Elliott said, “Every play has given me a job. My job is to do my job according to my ability.” “I’m very proud to be round. The Blitz pickup is great for running backwards. You have to keep the quarterback safe and untouched.”
Prescott is returning from an injury that cost him the most of the 2021 NFL season. Until Elliott keeps him safe, he will continue to out-snap Pollard on a weekly basis. Don’t be surprised to see Dallas give Elliott a little less time and take advantage of Pollard’s explosive power when the touches actually split.
This will help the experienced Elliott stay more fresh in the 2021 campaign.