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Why Cooper Rush can save the day if the Cowboys lose Dak Prescott

For the second straight season, the Cowboys have found their answer at backup quarterback.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Before you make a beeline to the comment sections to say how ridiculous this notion is, I would first advise you to read this.

During the offseason last year there was one thing that weighed heavily on the minds of many Cowboys fans - can Tony Romo stay healthy enough to allow the team to have a competitive season? It had become a frustrating feeling to have the team’s playoff hopes hinge on the availability of one single player, but that is where things stood for the Cowboys.

But then suddenly all that changed.

When the Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott in the fourth round of last years draft there was a small sense of tranquility that came over me. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as surprised as the next guy that Prescott played as well as he did. He was a star for crying out loud. But what I wasn’t surprised about was that he could be successful in this offense. A couple weeks after the Cowboys drafted Prescott, I pondered the idea of whether or not he could save the day if Romo went down. Dak was a mobile quarterback in college and is a dual-threat player, but it was his pocket-passing ability that was the difference maker.

Now, just because Prescott can run doesn't mean he's going to give a defense fits, but his skill set would be put to good use in this offense. He's very good at protecting the ball and keeps his passes manageable so he isn't the gunslinger risk a lot of rookie QBs are. He'll have a strong running game to work behind and he'll have plenty of weapons to throw the ball to. And if he doesn't like what he sees, he can just take off running.

Prescott is smart and does an outstanding job of protecting the football. At the bare minimum he was going to be a player that was good enough to just let the offense do their thing without shaky QB play holding them back. As luck would have it, us Cowboys fans were treated to something better than just the bare minimum.

That brings me to the Cowboys new backup quarterback, Cooper Rush. And yes, I’m calling him the team’s backup QB. I don’t care if Kellen Moore comes back or what the depth chart tries to tell us. We’ve all seen with our own two eyes which quarterback is the better football player for this team and it’s not Moore.

Rush had an outstanding preseason. Here are the top five quarterback performances for all players who attempted at least 20 passes:

That’s right, the Cowboys had the top two QBs. It should be noted that the Patriots Jacoby Brissett had a good preseason as well as he was 41/62 for 465 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT. He finished with a 103.2 QB rating. It was such an impressive performance that the Colts were willing to trade away their first round pick of 2015 (Phillip Dorsett) to the Patriots. Our own RJ Ochoa, being the funny guy he is, added a little bit of comedic perspective on the Colts decision:

Now, none of what you’ve read so far is designed to convince you that the Cowboys have two of the better quarterbacks in the league. But what they do have is two good ones and neither of them are named Romo. It’s a far cry from the days of the “bash brothers” of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. I call them the bash brothers because watching them play made me want to bash my head against something.

Besides all the chain moving and touchdown throwing that Rush demonstrated in the preseason, there are some attributes he has that are very appealing. Like Prescott, he’s a smart guy. He was a science major with a 3.9 grade point average. If it looks like he isn’t struggling understanding the playbook, there might be a pretty good reason for that. He’s a film room guru and steps on the field with a predisposed notion of what he’s going to be doing. It’s not an accident that we would hear over and over again about how poised the kid looked in the pocket.

Like Prescott, he was on the rise in college, but cooled off his final season that dampened his draft stock considerably (as in, undrafted). But that shouldn’t nullify his total body of work. Rush finished his college career ranking 16th all-time in passing with 12,891 yards.

Rush is a timing passer. He knows what he’s going to do and relies on the precision of his route runners to be effective. He’s not a player that will beat you with his arm strength or athleticism, but his consistency and mental make up will fit very nicely within the Cowboys offense. For example, do you know who runs their routes to perfection? Jason Witten. Do you know who would benefit from an anticipatory thrower passing to a particular spot? Cole Beasley. Do you know who can benefit from a slant route where the pass is placed right where it should be? Dez Bryant.

We all saw Noah Brown take a perfect slant pass for a large gain (before he fumbled) and we all saw Ronnie Hillman turn around and have the ball land right there in his hands. Just think of what Rush could do with more reliable weapons available. And certainly, let’s not forget that he will also have a forceful running game and dominant offensive line blocking for him.

So as the buzz circulates about Kellen returning to the team or on the practice squad, just remember - none of that matters. The only thing worth noting is that the Cowboys already have a quality backup QB on the team. And let’s be clear, anytime a team loses their starting quarterback, that’s a bad thing - but that doesn’t mean solid backups can’t find ways to get the job done for a few games. Rush could be one of those guys. What a refreshing feeling it is to know the quarterback situation in Dallas is sitting in real good shape.