The most wonderful revelation of last season was the remarkable discovering of the Cowboys new franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. He started the season behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore on the depth chart and shared a bunk bed with Jameill Showers. The kid from Mississippi State wasn’t someone people gave a lot of thought about until the other two quarterbacks got hurt and then suddenly all eyes were on him.
And you pretty much know how that turned out. Well, here we are a year later and once again someone is trying to climb the QB depth chart.
One of the biggest side stories of this Cowboys preseason has been the backup quarterback position. It didn’t start out that way, but the team’s solid number #2 QB, Kellen Moore has struggled in two out of three preseason games whereas undrafted free agent, Cooper Rush has flourished. It’s been almost a night and day difference for the offense when the two quarterbacks are in.
Cooper Rush leads the offense to touchdowns. Kellen Moore leads the offense to punts. Sometimes he’ll allow the defense to poke the ball out of his hands and meander for a defensive touchdown. It’s comical at times, but also very frightening.
With this most recent display of contrasting performances against the Indianapolis Colts, fans are crying out, “why can’t Cooper be the backup!” Well, guess what?
According to Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, "he will be the subject of conversation at personnel meetings this week."
Cowboys seem to be realizing what others already know: Kellen Moore may not be the ideal No. 2 to Dak Prescott https://t.co/oe50wUaZ2y— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 20, 2017
Jason Garrett continues to preach about competition, but at the same time he continues to show a great amount of support for Kellen Moore.
“He’s a very smart player, makes good decisions,” Garrett said. “I thought he threw the ball to the right guy a lot. I think the biggest thing if you look at his drives is we got behind the chains a little bit, had some holding penalties and you’re looking at some tough down-and-distances. And it’s hard to overcome that. But I thought he handled that stuff for the most part pretty well and just kept trying to execute ball plays. He will continue to do that.”
Now, if you know anything about Jason Garrett and how he deals with the media, he’s always focusing on the positive. He’s not the type of coach that will dump on his players in public. So when he says things like “for the most part” or “kept trying” one has to wonder if doubt has now crept in when it comes to how Moore is perceived. It’s also out of character for Garrett to make any type of excuses for his players. Whether there’s poor officiating or the sun is in your eyes, there are never any extenuating circumstances that will justify not being able to go out on the field and get the job done. But he seems to be doing exactly that for Moore. I can’t help wondering if he is genuinely content with how Moore is playing or if this is just lip service? My guess would be the latter.
Of course, if you really want to get some inside information, you have to corner a Jones and see if they’ll let something slip. Executive Vice President, Stephen Jones was very guarded about how he answered questions regarding Moore and Rush, but offered this up:
"He's deserving everything he's getting right now," Jones said. "I'm sure, like Jason [Garrett] says and I believe this, it's always competitive out there. The day you think somebody is not coming after your job is the day you're in trouble.”
Oh, he’s been coming for it alright. During the preseason, Rush has completed 26 of 38 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns. And even more satisfying, he hasn’t thrown a pick. So what does that mean going forward? Jones continued,
"We'll continue to give them both reps, a similar number of reps, and we'll let them compete and we'll see how Cooper does. So far, he's doing everything the right way."
Don’t beat around the bush, Stephen. Can Cooper earn the backup roster spot or not?
"That would be unfair to say at this point," Jones said. "Let's just see how it plays out. The one thing I would say is every time he gets an opportunity he takes advantage of it in spades. I'm real pleased with him."
Giving them a similar amount of reps is a good sign that there’s a good old fashion position battle going on, but some people still don’t think Rush has a legitimate chance. Former terrible backup quarterback weighed in:
Love what Cooper Rush is doing. Love it. But NO team will make him their #2 QB this year. You keep him and he competes for backup next year— Babe Laufenberg (@BabeLaufenberg) August 20, 2017
I don't like boxing him in. Have we not learned anything from a QB exceeding expectations last year? Play him. Evaluate him. Repeat.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 20, 2017
The coaches may have entered the offseason with a lot of love for Kellen Moore and that’s fine. But the team isn’t going to just roll with one guy because he was their favorite guy. Remember, the team just benched everyone’s favorite, Cowboys iconic quarterback, Tony Romo in favor of a rookie that was doing everything right. If they can drop Romo down the depth chart, they certainly won’t blink an eye to do it to Moore.
These next two games should be interesting, but don’t believe for a moment that this one is already settled.