Is Cooper Rush the answer at backup QB? From what I have seen in preseason, I am not so sure. Is there a draft possibility for a backup, or sign a veteran in free agency?– JAMIIR HENDERSON / GLASGOW, KY
Johnny: I might be projecting here, but after Dak Prescott hurt his shoulder in Week 15 the possibility of Rush starting either of the following two games with the post-season on the line felt like a wake-up call. I think coaches are generally more comfortable with a veteran backing up their quarterback. Considering the weapons in the offense and the ability to lean on Ezekiel Elliott in the running game, I could see Dallas looking to sign a former starter like Matt Schaub or Mike Glennon in case they need to weather a two or three-game absence from Prescott.
David: I'm interested to see how the coaching change affects the backup quarterback situation. Mike McCarthy specializes in quarterback play, so he might want to bring his own guy in. There are a lot of veteran backups available in free agency this year, or perhaps the front office will want to draft another developmental guy like they did with Mike White in 2018. That's not to say Cooper Rush won't return. He definitely still could. But I don't feel as confident about that as I would have under the previous coaching staff.
With the new coaching change, is it possible that we will see Jaylon Smith be utilized more in the pass rush? Does he have the skill set to be more of a factor in the pass rush?– KARL HOUCK / ROCKWALL, TX
Johnny: I don't think the defensive schemes are going to be drastically different in year one under Mike Nolan. That said, I think the plan should be to maximize Smith's abilities. You could make the argument that he's the most athletic player on the team, so there's no reason to think he can't get to the quarterback. The situations where he's utilized in that regard might be limited, but he signed a contract that suggests there's nothing he's unable to do within his position. His personal comfort zone shouldn't be an issue.
David: Heck yeah. I mean, I don't think we're going to see Mike Nolan convert him to defensive end, but it's very obvious that Jaylon Smith plays his best when he's moving toward the line of scrimmage. He's shown ability as a blitzer, and he made several big plays pressuring the quarterback. He had four sacks in 2018. The Cowboys' defensive staff needs to find a way to maximize that ability.