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Science Lab: A 'Thank You' Letter to Cooper Rush


Patrik [No C] Walker joined the Dallas Cowboys digital media group as a staff writer and media personality in July 2022, having professionally covered the NFL and, more specifically, the Cowboys since 2007.

He most recently did so for CBS Sports by way of 247Sports, where he also spent time delving into collegiate recruiting as well – ultimately becoming well-known for his level of unapologetic objectivity labeled by many as his own unique brand of football "science".

Welcome to "The Science Lab", a place where football facts and in-depth analysis always triumph over feelings.

FRISCO, Texas - Thank you, Cooper Rush. And as Dak Prescott prepares to resume his duties as starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys against the visiting Detroit Lions on Sunday, presumably, it's important everyone take a step back and recognize what occurred over the four games leading into the battle with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rush wasn't the superhero the Cowboys needed, because they didn't need one at all. With capes draped over the broad and ever-capable shoulders of its defense and special teams unit, what the club needed at quarterback in the absence of Prescott was a capable sidekick who didn't wreck the Batmobile.

Rush instantly became Robin and, despite the best efforts by some to push him into wanting more, he never had any thoughts of becoming Nightwing.

"He dreams bigger than I do."

Those were Rush's exact words when asked weeks ago about a possible QB controversy - referencing comments from owner and general manager Jerry Jones (comments that became headlines) - a humble, steady-minded guy who went undrafted out of Central Michigan that battled his way to an opportunity five years in the making.

Those outside of the organization who want Prescott out, for their own variety of reasons, simply saw Rush as the latest opportunity to achieve that goal, having seen their previous savior - Andy Dalton - fail at supplanting him.

And if Rush's value leads him elsewhere in 2023, that same group of people will strap their hopes to Will Grier (or whomever else) in the continual battle within themselves to dislike the franchise quarterback in Dallas who, at this moment, just happens to be Rayne Dakota Prescott.

Holy perpetual subconscious resentment, Batman.

At some point in the timeline of Prescott's career, he crossed the event horizon and began to receive the "Tony Romo Treatment", the irony being it was Prescott who became the gladiator for those who desperately wanted Romo gone and, as such, instantly became the villain for those who wanted Romo to remain and felt as if Prescott somehow stole something from them.

But, you see, the difference is Romo's 36-year-old body was failing him to the point where quality of life after football became a very real concern and, at the same time, Prescott had earned the role of QB1 with a record-setting 11-game win streak - from a compensatory fourth-round pick, no less - but Prescott's body isn't currently failing him (his injuries are due to the basic occupational hazard of playing football and not continually linked to one another such as Romo's were).

And Rush's win streak? Mostly irrelevant, considering calls for him to remain the starter arrived as early as after only one win, and even Rush understood his role in the equation the entire time.

"The defense is the reason we're winning," he said in early October.

And there it is.

It legitimately took only a victory in Week 2 over the Cincinnati Bengals, wherein Rush accounted for one touchdown, for the supposed QB controversy to grow legs. What was lost in all of the justifiable glee of the subsequent four-game win streak was that Rush threw only four touchdowns, total, and the Cowboys were winning because he didn't lose any fumbles or throw any interceptions.

In other words, he did his job by not costing the team any games when placed under center- i.e., the thing the Cowboys pay him to do, until he did with three interceptions against the Eagles.

But make no mistake about it, managing games is not the only thing they pay Prescott to do.

They also pay him to extend plays, improvise and take over games when the time calls to do so. They pay him because of the 10 career fourth-quarter comebacks, the 17 game-winning drives, the 22,217 passing yards and 143 passing touchdowns to only 51 interceptions (1.7% INT rate and career passer rating of 98.2) and complete control of the offense and the entire locker room that indicates the 29-year-old has the ability to get them back to the Super Bowl.

Of course, he'll need to regain top form or near it to make that true, and there will be hiccups along the way (that's sort of how the QB position in the NFL goes) but even the aberration of Week 1 in Dallas isn't enough to sway the overwhelming evidence supporting how prolific the not-yet-30-year-old can continue to be for years to come.

Translation: R-E-L-A-X.

It feels like it was just yesterday when droves of fans, media analysts and paid hot takists alike were pouring kerosene all over the Cowboys season after not only seeing them score only three points in the Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - takes that were emboldened by the loss of Prescott for what was expected to be several weeks.

But hey, the same ones were demanding Rush be released and, when he eventually was, were upset he was later re-signed.

There are receipts.

The sky was allegedly falling on Sept. 12th but, thanks to the coaching staff and talent surrounding Rush on all sides of the ball, he was able to focus on managing the game - on simply keeping the Batmobile out of a ditch - and he did it masterfully (and with a bit o'luck) for four out of five games.

And by the time it crashed in Philadelphia, there was enough distance from The Riddler that any question marks regarding the fate of the Cowboys season had been all but put to rest.

So, again, thank you Cooper Rush.

You were the man for the moment and the Cowboys couldn't have asked for a much better Robin (see Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel for reference), and as Bruce Wayne returns to try and help the Justice League finally save Gotham, I have but six words for you:

Take a bow. You earned it.


"No C"

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