When someone asks if the Dallas Cowboys season was a disappointment, it is easy to answer that question with a yes. The team lost in the divisional round, despite what felt like a wide-open NFC and having a really talented roster. However, when you put into perspective how the season started, one could argue that the season was a tremendous success.
When QB Dak Prescott injured his right thumb in week one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it felt like the season was over before it even had a chance to get started. With a projected recovery timeline of 6-8 weeks, and a difficult upcoming schedule for the team, some fans had given up on the 2022 season. Backup QB Cooper Rush had other ideas. Rush stepped in at QB and won four straight games for the Cowboys. In that four-game stretch, he did not throw a single interception, and had an average passer rating of 95.48.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Cowboys somehow managed to finish the season 12-5 and win a wildcard matchup against the Buccaneers and QB Tom Brady. This would not have been possible without Rush’s exceptional play when Prescott went down with his injury. Rush’s four wins came against the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants, Washington Commanders, and Los Angeles Rams. Considering how good the NFC East was in 2022, Rush winning those games was crucial for the Cowboys in the long-run.
Now that the season is over, the Cowboys front office has a lot of decisions to make. They have several vital players who are pending free agents. These players include RB Tony Pollard, TE Dalton Schultz, LB Leighton Vander Esch, S Donovan Wilson, RT Terence Steele, and QB Cooper Rush.
Team owner Jerry Jones confirmed at the Senior Bowl that the team will be committed to spending one of their draft picks on a quarterback who can be developed under head coach Mike McCarthy.
Jerry Jones said the Cowboys are committed to drafting a quarterback. He said he should have committed to drafting one every year years ago.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) February 1, 2023
Drafting a young QB with a late-round pick is not a bad idea. However, the front office needs to also prioritize bringing back Rush. Rush has provided stability at the QB position when Prescott suffers an injury. The Cowboys expect to find themselves in the playoffs again next season, and it will be important to have an experienced QB behind Prescott in the instance of an injury. After having an incredible season, it is expected that Rush will command an annual salary of much more than the $1,035,000 he was paid in 2022.
Regardless, the Cowboys should pay him and keep him in Dallas. The insurance of having Rush if Prescott continues his trend of injury in the 2023 season could pay off by having a QB in the locker room who can win games and doesn’t turn the ball over.