Through two preseason games, it has been clear: rookie quarterback Cooper Rush needs to be Dak Prescott’s primary backup in 2017. It needs to happen now.
The rookie out of Central Michigan has burst onto the scene for the silver and blue through his first two preseason games in the National Football League. In his first action against the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame game, Rush completed nine of his 18 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown score. Although it was against backups, Rush looked like an NFL quarterback during his limited action in the Cowboys’ opener. He even impressed head coach Jason Garrett with his outing:
“Thought he did a really good job,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “Thought he handled himself very well. Poised and composed. There were not many game situations that came up that he didn’t handle well. They did a few different things to him defensively and he recognized them, made some big plays. The touchdown was a big play and he really did a nice job on that play, recognizing the Cover 0 blitz and getting it to the right guy. That’s really what he’s shown us in all the opportunities he’s gotten up to this point. So it was good to see him take that to the game.”
After the Hall of Fame game, I wrote a piece discussing the case for Kellen Moore to be the Cowboys QB2 and the case against Moore being number two on the depth chart. Here is what helps Moore’s odds:
The confidence the coaching staff, namely Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett, shows in Moore is a reason why he has a legitimate chance of opening the season as the second guy on the quarterback depth chart.
With his experience on the NFL level, the confidence and respect the coaching staff shows in him, and his familiarity with the Dallas Cowboys system, Kellen Moore is a reasonable candidate to be the man behind Dak Prescott in 2017.
For the case against Moore starting the season as the second option in the Cowboys’ QB room, I wrote about his shortcomings on the NFL level but also the performance from Cooper Rush on that Thursday night:
Rookie quarterback Cooper Rush also played in the Hall of Fame game, and the Central Michigan product played pretty solid himself. Rush appeared in the second half of the Cowboys’ opening preseason game against the Cardinals last Thursday in Canton. Rush threw the ball 18 times, completed half of his throws, and even beat the blitz and found Allen, Texas, native Uzoma Nwachukwu for a score.
After the game, Jason Garrett said that the undrafted rookie was “poised and composed” during his action last week.
Despite Moore tossing a touchdown last week, Rush simply jumped off the screen in a way the former Boise State star did not. Rush continued his impressive preseason play last night versus the Rams in the LA Coliseum — the same venue in which Dak Prescott first made a name for himself last year.
Against the Rams, Rush gave the Cowboys life. After a sluggish performance with Kellen Moore in the game, the Cowboys looked to have a jump in their step with number 7 behind center. The confident undrafted rookie completed nine of his eleven passes — hitting his first eight before his first incompletion — for over 100 yards and a score. He marched the Cowboys down the field and hit freakishly athletic tight end Rico Gathers for six on a beautiful dime from 25-yards out.
I know, I know. It’s just a preseason game against non-starters. But, Cooper Rush just seems to take the offense to a level that Kellen Moore doesn’t. He plays with a noticeable swagger that rubs off on his teammates, and his dimes look a lot prettier than the six-year veteran’s.
As our own Tom Ryle points out, another argument for keeping Rush on the 53-man roster is the fear of losing him before he even hits the practice squad. Will the Cowboys decide to keep three quarterbacks on the roster?
While there is still plenty of time for Moore to improve his showing, he may just be what he is. And Rush may have bad days ahead of him, but if he doesn’t, then the Cowboys are once again going to be faced with trying to find a way to get him through waivers to the practice squad. And that has not always gone well in recent years.
While inexperienced on the professional level, the 6-foot-3 and 230 pound quarterback had quite the career at Central Michigan. Rush started 50 games, passed for 12,891 yards, and threw 90 touchdowns for the Chippewas during his four-year career. He also has experience playing against Power-5 competition and even recorded a marquee win over 11th ranked Oklahoma State on the road last season.
The undrafted quarterback has impressed in both contests this August. He had an impressive career on the collegiate level and is an older, mature rookie. Through the first two games, it has been blatantly obvious that Rush has a higher ceiling than Kellen Moore. While the season may be over if Dak goes down for an extended period of time, Rush at the very least looks to give the Cowboys a better chance of winning than Moore does.
With his impressive preseason performances and his higher potential, Cooper Rush needs to be the Dallas Cowboys’ primary backup quarterback in 2017.