Could Dallas Cowboys rookie runner Tony Pollard’s breakout performance affect the team’s negotiations with star running back Ezekiel Elliott?
During Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams in Hawaii, Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard ran five times for 42 yards, for an 8.4 yards per carry average. Then, Pollard capped his performance with a go-ahead 14-yard touchdown run.
Since then, there’s been a fair amount of fallout from his impressive performance. According to NFL.com, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones started the ball rolling with his comment immediately after the game. “Zeke who?” he chuckled, referring, of course, to Dallas Cowboys two-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott.
You can always count on Jerry for a great quote. This was classic Jerry Jones, clearly designed to tweak Elliott. And it reportedly did. The very next day, Rocky Arceneaux, Elliott’s agent reported that neither he nor Zeke liked the comment one bit, as reported by CBS Sports. Of course, they did. Exactly as Jones intended. Crazy as a fox in a henhouse, that Jerry.
Since then, commentators from Steven A. Smith to Skip Bayless have weighed in. ESPN First Take host Steven A. Smith said Jones is just trying to agitate Elliott. Of course, he is. Skip Bayless of Skip and Shannon Undisputed on FS1 agreed. “Advantage Jerry Jones,” he smirked.
Obviously, Bayless is right. Even a cursory glance shows how Pollard’s performance affects the negotiations. Without Pollard, Elliott had the Cowboys over a barrel. How could they win without their best player and the NFL’s leading rusher two out of the last three seasons?
Then Saturday happened. Now suddenly, with Pollard proving he can help carry the team, the Cowboys can start saying how they could live without Elliott. You can almost hear the cackling. But that’s just the postage stamp version. When we dig a little deeper, it gets even more interesting.
Because if I were Elliott, I would be starting to get a little worried right about now. It’s not just because Pollard scored a touchdown and made a few good plays. It’s because of how he did it, and what it means.