Can The Cowboys Stay In Contention With Cooper Rush?

September 22, 2022
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Cooper Rush did it again last Sunday. He led the Dallas Cowboys to another win when most people didn’t give them a chance to win. After his second win as QB1 since 2021, is it fair for Cowboys fans to expect Rush to keep Dallas in contention and lead them to win consistently? Let’s dive in.

One week down without Dak Prescott, five to seven more to go.

It wasn’t the prettiest showing on offense for the Cowboys, but it was better than Week One against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are many compliments to pass around to this team after getting a big win against the reigning AFC champion, Cincinnati Bengals. Micah Parsons made it look easy, Brett Maher was clutch, and backup quarterback Cooper Rush stepped up big time. 

Rush steps into the QB1 positions after Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury which will sideline him for 6-8 weeks (unless you believe Jerry Jones’ timeline). 

Being thrown into the starting quarterback position isn’t new territory for Rush. Cowboys fans had a taste of Rush’s heroics last season when Dak Prescott missed some time. Rush led the team to a victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. 

Can Cowboys fans relax and be confident in Rush to keep the Cowboys in contention for the playoffs? If only it was that easy. Let’s take a look at the small sample size we have for Rush and his two starts.

2021 Week Eight Vs The Minnesota Vikings

Last season, Dak suffered a calf strain from the Week Six overtime victory against the New England Patriots. After a Week Seven bye week, The Cowboys were on the road in Minneapolis for this prime-time matchup. 

The game started very slow for Rush and the offense, throwing on their second drive after their first ended with a missed field goal. The offense would only muster three points going into halftime with a score of 10-3.

Opening the third quarter shifted the momentum towards Dallas. Rush capped off a three-play drive with a 74-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson. Rush looked much more comfortable after halftime as he led the offense to score 13 points in the second half. His last drive would be the game-winning drive, as Rush threw a touchdown to Amari Cooper with 51 seconds to go. 

Rush finished this 20-16 SNF win by completing 24 out of 40 passes for 325 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and one fumble.

It wasn’t flawless but Rush played solidly when the team’s back was against the wall as the visiting team. It was a great win for Rush’s first career start while he also showed the team that they can have some confidence in him.

2022 Week Two Vs The Cinncinati Bengals

Rush’s first start last season was slow in the first half and then he flipped it in the second half to secure a win. This past Sunday in his second career start, Rush led the offense to come out hot in the first half. 

The team’s first two possessions on offense turned into two touchdowns. Rush threw his only touchdown on the first drive of the game to wide receiver Noah Brown. Then Tony Pollard ran in the second touchdown on the second drive.

The Cowboys went into halftime with a lead of 17-3 against the Bengals. Rush would only lead the offense to score three more points the entire game. 

The offense made a complete 180 and was stuck in the mud in the second half. Rush couldn’t get anything going through the air, as the ground game wasn’t doing much either. Dalton Schultz fumbled the ball late in the third quarter as well.

The Cowboys’ defense contained Joe Burrow and his weapons as much as they could, but the Bengals still ended up tying the game up at 17-17 late in the fourth quarter. 

Rush had the ball in his hands for the game’s final possession at the Cowboys’ 35-yard line with one timeout and 57 seconds left in the game. Although the second half was sloppy, Rush came up clutch. He led the team with three straight completions to the 32-yard line inside Cincinnati territory. 

This set up Brett Maher to kick a 50-yard game-winning field goal to pull off the 20-17 upset against the AFC champs.

Rush ended the day by completing 19 out of 31 passes for 235 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Rush was far from perfect, but he pulled the offense together and came up clutch when he needed to.

What To Expect From Rush For The Foreseeable Future

Rush has shown to stay calm and collected in both of his starts which were close games. The positives are great as Rush can come up big when the moments are tight. The negatives can also be seen as he and the offense have struggled to move downfield. This was seen in the first half against Minnesota and then in the second half against Cincinnati. 

Expectations that are put onto Rush running the Cowboys’ offense should be realistic. Will he be able to pull off victories this season? Absolutely. Will he turn the Cowboys into a high-powered offense that can rival the Buffalo Bills? No.

That’s okay though. Cooper Rush knows Dak Prescott is coming back to take over when Prescott gets healthy. Rush knows his role, keep the offense intact and does well enough to keep them from drowning without Prescott. Which Rush has shown that he is very capable of doing.