Cowboys offense will need to make up for the loss of explosiveness from Tony Pollard leaving

A season ago the Dallas Cowboys finished fifth in the league in yards per game and first in points, but sadly left much to be desired as far as explosive plays were concerned. In that department, they ended up tied for ninth-worst in the NFL with just seven plays of 40 yards in the passing game and only one rush over 40 yards. Heading into 2024, things unfortunately could be worse.

Offensively, the significant losses on the offensive side of the ball were Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz, and Tony Pollard. Two of the three they’ve replaced through the 2024 NFL Draft, but as of yet have failed to replace one of their most explosive offensive weapons in Tony Pollard.

While 2023 was no doubt a down year for Pollard, he did account for eight plays of 20+ yards last year. Now that he’s joined the Tennessee Titans via free agency, the Cowboys probably don’t have anybody currently on the roster at the running back position capable of replicating No. 20’s explosiveness with the ball in his hands out of the backfield.

The return of Ezekiel Elliott definitely doesn’t move the needle any as far as explosiveness is concerned, nor does Rico Dowdle or Deuce Vaughn. Even in an RB committee, this trio would be lucky to have as many 20+ yard plays as Pollard did last season. Because of that, it wouldn’t be at all of a surprise to see a pretty significant dip in production in the running game for the Cowboys in 2024.

Lack of explosive plays coming from the running game could unfortunately have a negative ripple effect that carries over to the Cowboys aerial attack as well. Yes, they still have two wide receivers more than capable of picking up chunk yardage in the passing game in CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks, but neither has really proven to be a home run threat during their time with the Cowboys.

Without a significant threat coming out of the backfield for the Cowboys, opposing defenses can choose to to play more players in coverage to combat the threat both Lamb and Cooks present in the passing game. Dallas really needs someone to step up in that WR3 role to help them out, however, who that player may be is a complete mystery right now.

Third-year WR KaVontae Turpin could be that player. He possesses game-breaking speed and could provide an explosive element to the Cowboys passing game, but for whatever reason he has yet to be utilized as such a weapon. Despite Mike McCarthy’s insistence on getting him more involved offensively last year, he ended up having only 18 targets all season.

Maybe their rookie sixth-round pick (216th overall) Ryan Flournoy can come in and add some much-needed explosiveness to the Cowboys passing game. The 6’1”, 200-pound WR did run a 4.4 second 40-yard dash this year at the NFL Combine, but it’s probably too much to ask of him to come in as a rookie and play a significant role. He’s more of a project at the position as of now.

Rhe Cowboys have unfortunately done nothing this offseason to demonstrate they’ll be any better at creating explosive plays in 2024. In fact, as we’ve stated before, without Pollard they could be significantly worse in that department. All we can do now is take the wait-and-see approach to see how all of this ends up playing out.


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