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Why Cowboys Cooper Rush gets disrespected in recent backup quarterback ranking

Cooper Rush has proven a lot during his second stint in Dallas but he still has doubters out there among NFL media.

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys couldn’t have looked worse after their Week 1 loss last season at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately, there’s always another shoe that gets dropped. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a broken thumb and would require surgery, missing time.

It felt like the season was over for the Cowboys before it began. There was all of the momentum building from the offseason, and for it to be over in a blink of an eye sounded imaginable. Then Cooper Rush happened — the journeyman backup quarterback who returned to Dallas after starting his career in silver and blue. Rush delivered when Dallas needed him most, going 4-1 in Prescott’s absence.

It was such an unexpected performance that some fans wanted to keep Rush playing when Prescott got healthy. Of course, there was never a serious thought about that, but that was how surprising Rush’s performance was at the time.

So where did that land him in Pro Football Network’s backup quarterback rankings? See for yourself.

With a 5-1 record as an NFL starter across two seasons, Rush is ranked at No. 25 entering 2023. There are criteria attached to the ranking and what bucket he falls under. Next to his name is the words “Bucket 2.”

That means for PFN, they consider him a “bus driver” quarterback. The term is usually associated with someone who isn’t a dynamic playmaker but can help run an efficient offense if there are enough pieces around him to succeed. There is no argument there.

However, it seems strange to have a few of these names ahead of someone successful at winning games against quality opponents. Other quarterbacks ahead of Rush are Bailey Zappe (15), Mike White (16), Hendon Hooker (17), Malik Willis (19), Sam Ehlinger (21), Joshua Dobbs (22), and even Kyle Trask (25).

Cooper Rush is who he is — an NFL backup quarterback who doesn’t have the same upside as other names listed above, and that’s okay. Being a backup quarterback in the league should not have as much weight on potential rather than proven success. That criteria alone should have him at least between 17-20. An argument can be made for him to be higher.

Let’s compare.

Cooper Rush (2022): 4-1 record, 58 completion percentage, 1,051 passing yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions

Hendon Hooker (Rookie): Zero wins, zero statistics, could be on injured reserve to start the season

Malik Willis (2022): 1-2 record, 50.8 completion percentage, 276 passing yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions

Sam Ehlinger (2022): 0-3 record, 63.4 completion percentage, 573 passing yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions

Joshua Dobbs (2022): 0-2 record, 58.8 completion percentage, 411 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions

Kyle Trask (2022): one game appearance, 33 completion percentage, 23 passing yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and lists, but when it comes to Cooper Rush, some could argue he played a more important role for his team in 2022 than anyone on this list. If it wasn’t for him guiding the ship enough for the Cowboys to stay afloat until Prescott returned, the team could have finished third in the division behind the New York Giants.

Here is where Cooper Rush ranks among other lists ranking the same position:

CBS Sports - No. 15

The 33rd Team - No. 3

Sports Illustrated - No. 6

A quarterback’s situation should play a factor in the ranking as well. Rush returns to Dallas, where he continues to work with the same offense, even with Mike McCarthy calling plays. All five players mentioned above will enter new offenses for the season and learn new playbooks from either a coordinator or head coaching change.

Stability is the name of the game for an NFL backup at the quarterback position. Yes, the statistics and the passing metrics don’t play in his favor, but should it be for a player that could spend the entire season on the bench?

When it comes time to call their name at a moment’s notice and ask them to run an offense effectively, will they be up to the challenge? Rush has proven that over the previous two seasons and is one of the best security blankets in the NFL. What Cooper Rush was able to do in Dallas deserves a little more respect than No. 25.

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