Dallas Cowboys fans might be acting a little bit too casual about Dalton Schultz’s injury. I guess that’s what winning does to you. But we can’t overlook the absence of the tight end on this offense.
Schultz has seen the third most targets thrown his way and remains one of the safest and most dangerous options on a Cowboys’ unit that lacks experience at wide receiver. As he nurses a knee injury suffered against the Bengals, his game status remains in question.
The expectation for many is that Schultz will miss the game with rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot being asked to step up.
If defenses have already decided to focus on condensing the coverage toward CeeDee Lamb, imagine what things will look like if Schultz isn’t there to demand attention. Keep in mind that although Michael Gallup’s return is expected, he’s likely to be in a pitch count.
All of this brings up a relevant question for the Cowboys. Who can they get on the playing field in order to have the best combination of five skill-position players?
The answer, however you want to construct it, must include two running backs. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have the potential to be a dangerous duo and the team has to find a way to get them both on the field consistently.
And there’s a clear way to do it.
For a while now, Kellen Moore has earned himself the reputation of a “play collector.” When watching last week’s Sunday Night Football win by the Green Bay Packers, I couldn’t help thinking “the Cowboys gotta do this!”
The Packers – knowing quite well their WR/TE talent is shaky – have featured “Pony” personnel over the first couple of weeks. Such a grouping features two true running backs (no fullbacks) on the field.
Matt LaFleur put on a clinic using Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillion this way. At times, one would lead block for the other. Other instances had both running routes. A lot of snaps featured motion. It was a thing of beauty. And it worked!
The Packers featured Pony Personnel with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon both on the field for the eighth time tonight, a continuation from Week 1 (7 plays).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 19, 2022
Jones & Dillon Both On-Field
🔹 Weeks 1 & 2: 15 plays*
🔹 2021 Season: 28 plays
*As of 4:36 in 2nd Qtr#CHIvsGB | #GoPackGo
For the Packers, the problem was getting its best five skill-position players on the field. That included the two running backs. Heading into Monday Night, it’s clear Pollard and Elliott are among the Cowboys’ top 5.
Both Cowboys’ running backs combined are averaging 4.7 yards per touch, per Pro Football Reference. Featuring both with a little bit of scheming magic could go a long way in forcing opponents out of heavy boxes.
Pollard has proven he can be a weapon in space while Elliott continues to prove he’s still got juice. Together, they’ve averaged 24 touches per game while the Packers’ running backs have touched the football 30 times per game.
Dallas should be aware this game is the most winnable out of the next three opponents and creativeness will be required to keep Cooper Rush’s career record undefeated.
For more thoughts on the Cowboys potentially unleashing the ponies, check out Thursday’s episode of A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime!
Featured image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports