Much of the talk about the Dallas Cowboys quarterback position this offseason has concerned Dak Prescott’s contract. Rightly so, as Prescott is the starter and a guy who has been healthy for every game of his career. Since he was thrust into the starting role as a rookie in 2016, he’s been ready to go each week.
The problem is - that can change at any moment. And it’s not always a drastic injury either that keeps a player out, it could be something minor that only sidelines them for a few weeks. The key is to have someone who can bridge that gap when needed. The questions is - do the Cowboys have that guy behind Dak Prescott?
It’s hard to have a lot of confidence in Cooper Rush or Mike White based on what they’ve done so far. Besides Rush’s hot preseason of 2017, the results have been mixed at best. New quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna is probably the best hope of improving both players.
“I think everybody is a work in progress. We just talk about focusing on the progress of playing quarterback don’t worry about the outcome right now,” Cowboys quarterback coach Jon Kitna said. “Just the process of it, grinding and going the right places with the football and getting better and better. They’re young and I was just telling Mike (White) I know how it is in Year 2. It comes with reps.”
Cooper Rush spoke about how Kitna has helped them already.
“It’s been a big deal already,” [Rush] said, speaking from SportsCon in Dallas. “[Kitna] fits in the quarterback room really well. He’s awesome to work with. He’s a guy that brings 16 years of NFL experience, so he can constantly throw out advice [from situations] that he’s seen before.
”He’s big on the fundamentals of quarterbacking, like footwork. He’s really helping me with that stuff, along with working on arm strength and seeing the game the right way. He’s going to help us all.”
The preseason will be a huge test for both players. Not only in showing how much they have improved under Kitna’s tutelage, but in their battle to be the backup QB. While Rush is the incumbent as White was inactive on game day all last season, Kitna and the team are giving the impression that it’s a wide-open competition for the backup spot.
“It’s the NFL. Every day there’s competition,” Rush said. “There’s someone out there trying to compete with you for your job. That’s the nature of the position of quarterback. That’s how it’s always been. That’s how it’s always going to be. Mike’s a great guy, fun to work with. We’re pretty good buddies, and we both love to compete and really looking forward to this preseason.”
“Every year just you keep getting confidence — how to read defenses, the speed of the game, all that stuff you hear about,” Rush said. “It’s real, and it’s definitely all coming together. I had a really good minicamp and OTAs. I felt very comfortable.”
White also welcomes the competition, but is trying to keep in it perspective.
“So far I’ve had my good days,” White said. “I’ve had my learning curves and going through the hardships of being a young guy.
”You’re just always competing everyday. Competing to be your best self. I think if you get caught up in the competition of it you kind of worry about the wrong things. It’s all about getting the team better and getting the room better. That’s the attitude I’ve gone into it with.”
At this point, very few observers of the Cowboys would feel they are ready to face any games without Prescott in the lineup. There just hasn’t been enough evidence provided by Rush or White to inspire confidence. Maybe, though, Jon Kitna can unlock the potential of one of the two. If not, the Cowboys are playing with fire when it comes to backup QB.