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Star Evaluation: Cooper Rush Defied The Odds In Rookie Season
While free agency officially begins in March, roster turnover isn’t too far away. The Cowboys will indeed add and presumably release players, along with letting some go without a new contract.
However, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they’ve been and where they’re going.
What’s Been Good:
It would be unwise to throw too much hype on a guy with three regular season passing attempts, but it’s pretty remarkable that Cooper Rush climbed as high as he did in Year 1. It’s not just that Rush had a breathtaking preseason – and he did. As an undrafted rookie, he completed 74 percent of his passes for 398 yards across four preseason games, highlighted by impressive touchdown throws to the likes of Rico Gathers and Lance Lenoir. In the process, he forced the Cowboys coaching staff to include him on the 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback – which almost no one would have foreseen when he signed here. It was impressive enough that he made the roster, but Rush also kept the ball rolling into the regular season. After sitting behind Kellen Moore on the depth chart for eight weeks, Rush eventually supplanted him. He was named the No. 2 quarterback ahead of the Oct. 29 game against Washington, and he held onto that spot all the way through the season. Less than a year after going undrafted, Rush is widely expected to be the Cowboys’ backup for 2018 – and Moore is expected to be his coach. A lot can change in a year.
What’s Been Bad:
Do the Cowboys have enough experience at the quarterback position? Rush looked phenomenal last preseason, but how sure are we that it would translate to the regular season if he was asked to replace Dak Prescott? It’s hard to ignore the Philadelphia Eagles, who signed Nick Foles to a two-year, $11 million contract – then watched him lead the team to a championship when Carson Wentz was injured late in the season. It’s fine to be excited about Rush, and perhaps he will continue to develop into a promising young star in the league. But it’s fair to wonder if a guy with 15 career snaps in the regular season is the best possible backup for Dak Prescott.
It’d be easy to throw out Rush’s preseason stats as the best part of his rookie season, but it’s worth pointing out that he actually got some playing time in the regular season. Rush took the field late in the game against San Francisco back in Week 7, with the Cowboys holding a 40-10 lead. The possession was nothing special. Rush led the Cowboys on a 67-yard drive – largely thanks to a 45-yard run from Rod Smith. He only completed 1-of-3 passes for 3 yards, but it was still regular season experience in a league that doesn’t see much in the way of mop up duty.
The Cowboys’ actions in the next few months will say a lot about what the future holds for Rush. It’s theoretically possible the organization spends some resources on a free agent quarterback. Or perhaps they’ll spend a draft pick on another understudy – though it’s hard to imagine them doing that before the third or fourth round, at the earliest. If they don’t do that, then it’s a safe bet that Rush goes into 2018 as Dak Prescott’s primary backup. With another spring and summer of second-team reps, not to mention the preseason, there’s no telling how much more could come of his continued development.
- Cooper Rush earned his spot on the roster with an incredible performance in the preseason.
- With each practice and game he gained the confidence of his teammates and coaching staff.
- He was so good that he was put into the role of primary backup to Dak Prescott as a rookie, bumping Kellen Moore to the practice squad.
- The question for him is can he maintain that high level of play going into his second season? In doing so, would he put himself in a position to compete for a starting job in 2019 if something would be amiss with Prescott.
- Size, arm talent and toughness are all there to give this a run but will once again need to prove that his success in 2017 wasn’t a fluke.