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The Cowboys need to have their backup QB situation in order, and right now it doesn’t appear they do

The Cowboys must be able to survive if they are without Dak Prescott for a few games.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

November 26th, 2015

October 11th, 2020

Those two days mark the lowest of lows over the last decade for many fans of the Dallas Cowboys as they represent the day the team lost their starting quarterback for the season. The departures of Tony Romo and Dak Prescott completely took the air out of the sail as fans quickly came to terms that the team had no chance of doing anything special.

Injuries to quarterbacks happen. It’s unfortunate when it’s season-ending as that usually is all she wrote for some teams. Sure, there are moments when backups will rise from the dust and create a remarkable Super Bowl-winning story, but those instances are rare. If the injury only takes the quarterback out of a few games, hopefully, the backup can step in and keep the team afloat until the starter returns. That’s the goal of the backup, just keep it together, give the team a chance, and hopefully come away with a win or two.

Cooper Rush served that role well last year when he started one game after Dak Prescott injured his calf midway through the season against the New England Patriots. Rush kept his composure and led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Vikings. His composure and understanding of the system made him a solid choice for the backup role, which is why many fans seemed content with him again this season. The Cowboys also have Will Grier who the team claimed off of waivers at final roster cuts a year ago. If Grier can show something in camp, then maybe he has a chance to jump Rush on the depth chart. If not, the team should be no worse off than they were before.

We discussed this idea on a special edition of the BTB Roundtable following Saturday’s preseason game. Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

That’s a simple way of looking at it, but are we sure the team’s backup quarterback situation is as stable as we’d like? Rush did not look very good in his first preseason action against the Denver Broncos on Saturday. He was slow to get the ball out of his hands allowing defenders to close in on his targets. Any hesitation was met with a defender in his face where he even had the ball deflected right after he released it. He looked okay with the same stuff over the middle to the tight ends, but anything deeper down the field just wasn’t present.

Looking back we remember Rush was red-hot out of the gate when he was signed as an UDFA back in 2017. He hasn’t been able to recapture the preseason magic from that season, but he still managed to stay on as the team’s backup until 2020 when he was waived a couple of days after the team signed Andy Dalton in free agency. The Cowboys also had just drafted developmental quarterback Ben DiNucci so the need for what Rush brought to the table wasn’t there.

When Dalton left in free agency last year, Rush was once again in the mix for the backup spot. Although Garrett Gilbert appeared to be the frontrunner to win the gig in training camp, the team ultimately returned to Rush. In a way, it’s been a bit of an up and down career for Rush. Good start, fizzled a bit, then returned last year and was solid. But what does that mean we’re in store for this year?

We have to entertain the possibility that Rush isn’t the guy. His inability to show any consistency has to be a little worrisome. What if this year he doesn’t have it? Furthermore, we don’t really know what the team has in Will Grier to feel good about him should Rush falter. Grier was released last year from the Carolina Panthers, a team starving for quality quarterback play. We can’t just assume he’s going to be a viable backup.

Grier didn’t play on Saturday because he was dealing with a groin injury, but we should see him soon. If he goes out there and doesn’t play well, combined with another underwhelming performance by Rush, are the Cowboys suddenly in trouble at the backup quarterback spot? If so, that’s a dangerous place to be as there aren’t a lot of available free agents out there. Garrett Gilbert is out there and we’ve already seen the Cowboys bring back a familiar face when desperation sets in (cough, Brett Maher, cough).

The team may also once again scour the waiver wire looking for a release from a team that has excess depth as they did with Grier a year ago. Hopefully, it’s a path they don’t have to travel down, but if Rush or Grier don’t put together some decent quarterback play soon, fans will once again come to the realization that the Cowboys are one injury away from kissing the 2022 season goodbye.

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