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Cooper Rush: The backup quarterback that the Dallas Cowboys never knew how much they needed

Rush is 2-0 in his career, but can he continue to perform well enough in week three to beat the New York Giants?

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Cooper Rush has been the Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback for the better part of the last five years, and like it or not, it appears that his time in Big D will continue for at least the remainder of this season. There is a strong possibility that Rush could continue being the backup to Dak Prescott even past this season, but it all comes down to how well he performs during these stretch of games in relief of Prescott.

If Dak Prescott wants Rush in the quarterback room, then Rush is here to stay long term

Another piece of the puzzle for Rush’s future with the Cowboys is franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott. If Prescott wants Rush as his long term backup, then the Cowboys will more than likely appease their franchise player and keep him around, regardless of who is available in free agency or via trade. The happiness and cohesion of the quarterback room is an underrated part of this equation and at this stage, there hasn’t been anything reported that suggests Prescott and Rush have a bad relationship. It appears from all the interactions seen in the public eye that they have a solid relationship. Keep that in mind while discussing the backup quarterback position because again, Dak Prescott tends to have a little more pull with the front office than most.

Cooper Rush is a better backup quarterback then you may think he is, at least that’s how it looks on the field

From an on-field perspective, Rush is your prototypical backup NFL quarterback. He might not have all the tools in his bag to be a full-time starter, but he has enough ability from a physical, and more importantly mental perspective to play good enough in a pinch. Rush seems to have a very high football IQ and it also doesn’t hurt to know the Kellen Moore offensive playbook from front to back either. In both starts, Rush, because of that high level of comfort with the playbook, looked very relaxed and in command of his troops. In both games that he started, his performances weren’t great, but they were good enough to win those games.

Game manager with a little more flair seems to be Rush’s style

The part of Rush’s game that could become an issue during Prescott’s absence is some of the questionable throws he makes at times. Chalk up those throws to having more confidence in his ability in comparison to his actual ability. He will need to be a little more judicious with his throws while facing the more elite secondaries. Even with those questionable throws at times, he truly is a game-manager which is completely fine given the play of the defense and special teams. Rush, when his playing days are over, could make for a good football coach.

Statistically speaking, he’s playing fairly well

Looking at his career from a statistical perspective, his completion percentage is just a shade under 61% which is slightly below the league average from 2021 of 64.8%. In his two career starts, he averaged 280 yards passing which is over 50 yards higher than the league average per game of 228. A combined effort in both starts also shows that he threw three touchdowns to just one interception which if you average them out comes to 1.5 touchdowns to .5 interceptions, which going off of last year’s average per game of 1.6 touchdowns to .9 interceptions, he has a better touchdown to interception ratio than your average starting NFL quarterback. Understandably, it’s a small sample size, but does show that he is a competent football player, even if your eyes sometimes tell you otherwise. Speaking of a small sample size, for what it’s worth, he did out-duel his counterpart, Joe Burrow, last week. That isn’t saying he’s as a good as Burrow, but outplaying him head-to-head is another positive sign.

The road ahead could be bumpy until Dak returns, but a .500 record while he’s away is most certainly on the table

To expect Rush to play high level football like Prescott is an unfair ask. Prescott wouldn’t be the starter, and Rush wouldn’t be his backup, if Rush was the better player. That is why the depth chart looks the way that it has since the two have been on the roster together. That isn’t a knock on Rush, but it’s pretty obvious who the better player is. In the meantime, during Dak’s absence, the key for Dallas to continue being competitive comes down to Rush playing his role as a game manager, the special teams staying steady, and the defense balling out. What can derail the Cowboys is if Rush continues to make some of those questionable throws; it’s been a stroke of luck that there aren’t more interceptions in his stat book. There will more than likely be bumps in the road while Prescott is healing up, but if the Cowboys are sitting around .500 when he returns, that is a good sign that the playoff hopes are still alive. It is going to be a very interesting stretch coming up, so buckle up and let’s see what unfolds.

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