Color me equally bewildered, but with Dak Prescott still trying to learn to grip a football with a broken thumb, a third straight game with backup quarterback Cooper Rush manning the offense has led, improbably, to a third straight Dallas victory. The Cowboys now sit just behind the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East standings. This past Sunday saw the piteous Washington Commanders (they should have stuck with Football Team™) as Super Cooper’s latest victim. With 235 passing yards and a pair of touchdown passes, and riding a truly elite-looking defense, Rush again managed to do just enough, felling lowly Washington 25-10.
Including his famous surprising Monday Night Football win in Minnesota last year — his first-ever start — the dub makes it four wins in a row to begin his career for the five-year veteran clipboard holder, a franchise record, the first of many records that will no doubt be wrested away from fellow legendary Cowboys signal-callers like Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach by Rush on his way to a bronze bust in Canton. Or so a particularly loud (and conspicuously uninformed) contingent of Cowboy fans would have you believe. These same folks have been trying to run No. 4 out of town since 2017. They were probably also the same ones who wanted to do the same to Tony Romo before that. I don’t know why no one hates a Dallas Cowboys quarterback more than a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Two wins against absolute dogs in the division in New York and Washington and another against a suddenly suspect Cincinnati Bengals team obviously suffering from a Super Bowl runner-up hangover, and Cowboys Twitter is already calling for Rush to be cemented as QB1 going forward. They’re doing cartwheels at the prospect of him supplanting Prescott in much the same way Prescott did Romo. Yet another sign that social media is chiefly meant for documenting the worst of humankind’s thoughts into a woefully permanent digital record. I’m sorry (not really), but if, based on three games’ worth of very Jimmy Garoppolo-like numbers against mediocre-to-very-bad teams, you want Rush to start over Dak once the latter is healthy, I’m of the opinion you know less about football than Jerry Jones knows about his recently discovered daughter Alexandra Davis.
Look, I get it. Winning is intoxicating. The rush of victory (so to speak) is so exhilarating it clouds your faculties and can twist your otherwise better sense of judgment into completely unrecognizable shapes. It’s one of the reasons gambling is addictive and people buy NFTs. If you’re prone to imbecilic takes like Rush > Dak, you have no more business commenting on football than a Gambler’s Anonymous member has of setting foot on the martini-soaked floor of a casino or my grandma does in perusing the latest Bored Ape offerings. It’s just not for you.
I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Rush. The guy has managed to do what everyone hopes and prays a backup quarterback is capable of doing. And that’s tread water until the starter comes back. Yes, he’s won. But he hasn’t exactly looked like the second coming of Kurt Warner while doing it — 22.6 points per game is far from the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
In fairness, he also hasn’t looked like what some “” named as the sixth-worst backup QB in the entire league heading into the season. Which was? You guessed it: Cooper Rush.
Have we all forgotten that just a month ago, no other team in the league wanted this guy? The Cowboys (and the majority of their fanbase) were practically begging Will Grier to take the backup job from Rush in the preseason. Rush was terrible in those games. Grier just happened to be worse, so when he couldn’t push Rush off the roster, they naturally cut him, but the Cowboys’ front office was also so confident in the lack of interest from any other team in Rush, they cut him, too, leaving Prescott as the only QB on the roster for a time. Jerry and company knew Rush would clear waivers. The trickery bought them time to keep better coveted players like tackle Tyron Smith and wide receiver James Washington after final cuts long enough to put them on IR.
I can’t explain the difference between preseason Cooper Rush and in-season Cooper Rush, but let’s keep reality in focus along with the larger context. Rush has played well. He’s had a lot more help than Prescott had in Week 1. The O-line is pass protecting, the receivers have found their hands, and the running game is setting up nice play-action plays that make it easy for whomever’s QB. Ultimately, Rush has done exactly three things. Here are the first two, with No. 3 to come later: 1.) Rush has given Prescott time to fully heal before forcing himself back to save a failing season, and 2.) he’s likely made himself life-changingly wealthy. No team is going to throw $30M-a-year starter money at him (because he isn’t an NFL starter), but he could be looking at a nice $5M-a-year extension to continue backing up Dak. That’s more money per year than he’s made in his entire career combined to this point.
And 3.) Rush has proven that due to a truly great defense, finally the quarterback of this team doesn’t have to do it all himself. Dak, without the pressure of playing hero-ball as he has since his sophomore year, will make this team even better when he returns. Sorry, haters. It’s a fact. If you don’t believe me, then I have a few NFTs to sell you.