The Dallas Cowboys have been very fortunate to have Cooper Rush on this roster after the injury to Dak Prescott after week one. Most NFL teams aren’t so lucky and scramble to figure out how to move forward while the quarterback recovers.
Rush has given the Cowboys one of the most important things a team could ask for, a competent backup quarterback who isn’t afraid of pushing the football down the field, changing plays at the line, and most of all being smart with the football and not turning the football over.
While Rush has done a great job in Prescott’s stead, he’s not as physically gifted as Prescott is, which makes these debates that are starting to pop up about Rush replacing the QB1 absurd.
First, you need to understand that while their offensive play-caller is the same, the plays you’re seeing on the field aren’t. The biggest departure from when Prescott was on the field compared to Rush is on third down. The backup has been excellent in the play-action passing game but No. 4’s ability to pick up first downs with his legs gives him a distinct advantage over Rush and the effectiveness of the offense.
Forcing teams to account for his run-game allows Precott’s receivers more space to operate and get open or have the starter just barrel ahead for a first down. Right now, the offense doesn’t have that threat and it has allowed defenses to drop back into more coverages knowing that Rush just doesn’t have the speed to get to the outside of making someone miss in space.
Teams have also started to focus more on stopping the Cowboys’ running game with Rush in the game compared to when Prescott was under center. Defenses have been known to try and smother the opposing running games in this specific situation which is why Rush has been so effective in the play-action passing game. Once Prescott comes back you’ll start to see defenses start to shift and worry more about the passing game.
An argument on why the Cowboys should not keep Cooper Rush in when Dak Prescott is ready
Now for those saying that you should go with the hot hand no matter who’s coming off an injury, I can see your point and that’s exactly what the Cowboys did in the Tony Romo and Dak Prescott situation when Romo went down with a back injury.
It worked out well for the Cowboys then and they were able to find their quarterback of the future but can we honestly say that Rush is a future franchise quarterback in this league? I don’t think you can, and coaches around the league thought so as well with his only other team being the New York Giants and that was due to his familiarity with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Obviously, coaches around the NFL didn’t consider him a viable quarterback to lead their team. Prescott on the other hand, if he were to hit the open market multiple teams would have been in pursuit of his services which is why the Cowboys paid such a hefty sum for him to stay on the team. Coaches see the talent and leadership he shows on and off the field and that’s exactly what you want in your franchise quarterback.
The final argument that I’ve seen floating around lately has been if Rush isn’t that good then why is he producing with the same talent around him as Prescott had in week one? Well, that’s simple, he was playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the toughest defenses in the NFL behind an offensive line that was starting a rookie at left tackle in his first NFL game and he lost his left guard in the same game. It’s hard not to see how he couldn’t have success under those circumstances at the time. Now with players coming back, Prescott will have his full complement of weapons at his disposal.
Also, I know that I’ve done a lot of Kellen Moore bashing here but he’s done a great job with limited players at his disposal and been able to put his backup quarterback in positions where he can make plays.
So for all of those people out there giving breath to this debate about Prescott vs. Rush, let’s just cut it out and be happy that we actually have a backup that we know can come in and win games if the situation depends on it. Don’t expect to see Prescott benched when he’s ready to go.