NFL: The Cooper Rush vs. Dak Prescott debate

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Even with his lackluster performance last Sunday, Cooper Rush played spectacularly as the Cowboys’ starting QB. Rush is 5-1 during his tenure as starter going back to last season. Especially in a tightly contested NFC East race, it’s reasonable to say that Rush saved the Cowboys season — imagine where the Cowboys would be at this point if Rush went 0-5. 

Even when starter Dak Prescott comes back, it wouldn’t matter, because starting 0-5 in the NFL is such an insurmountable deficit that even a prime Tom Brady himself couldn’t get out of. Rush deserves all the props in the world, and the Cowboys should re-sign him as their backup quarterback, with Prescott as their starter. 

Many Dallas fans are saying that even after the beating the Eagles gave the Cowboys in Week 6 that they do not want to see Prescott take back his reins as the starting QB, and they believe that Rush is and should be the future face of the Dallas Cowboys. But let’s discuss why the Cowboys are better off with Prescott. 

As good as Rush has been in comparison to the rest of the league, the Cowboys’ offense has scored only 110 points this year, which ranks 22nd in the league. Rush also only averages 191.2 yards per start, ranking 28th, behind Baker Mayfield whose season is perceived as being awful. Rush also has a completion rate in the bottom five of the league (57.7%). In comparison, Prescott has a 66.4% completion rate. 

When you complete a higher rate of passes, you face fewer third downs and give your team more of an opportunity to drive the ball down field and score. This is why the Cowboys’ offense, under the command of Prescott, was ranked as the top offense in the league in both 2019 and 2021, according to ESPN. Coincidentally, these seasons happen to be the last two full seasons Prescott has played in. 

Not only is Prescott better passing-wise, but he also excels when plays break down. Five to six years ago, the typical NFL quarterback used to be like Ben Roethlisberger, who would sit in the pocket all day, and if no one was open, throw the ball away. To be a quarterback in today’s NFL, you need to be able to scramble just as well as you can throw. This season, Rush has accumulated nine rushing attempts for six yards, a mark that makes Prescott’s career average of 4.8 yards per rushing attempt look like Barry Sanders in his prime.  

The factor that makes this all the more intriguing is the way that Prescott’s career began. Tony Romo was the man in Dallas in 2016, but he was injured and replaced by his backup: Prescott. Who’s to say that head coach Mike McCarthy won’t do the same thing here? After all, neither of these athletes has come close to a conference championship, let alone a Super Bowl and they both have faced scrutiny for this. Some Dallas fans want a new driver behind the wheel because the results haven’t been good enough. 

But what about in the big games? We have never seen Rush in the postseason, but we have seen Prescott. Prescott has been mediocre in these big games. Last postseason, he threw for two touchdowns and one interception in the Cowboys’ 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Not only this, Prescott had the potential to win that game, as he had the ball at midfield, with two  minutes and three timeouts left, and he turned the ball over on downs. Not to mention Prescott showed a poor display of football IQ, by scrambling with 14 seconds left and no timeouts, and then trying to snap the ball without giving it to the referee, so time expired. 

Despite all of this, it’s only a matter of time until Prescott makes a deep playoff run. He is the better quarterback overall; put Rush into this game, and it’s tough to see the Cowboys as close to winning as they were. The argument that Rush would be better in the playoffs than Prescott is so absurd because Rush needs to be better in the regular season — or at least on the same level as Prescott for this to be true.  

Still, it’s not fair to throw Rush completely under the bus after Dallas’ Week 6 loss to Philadelphia Eagles, who are undefeated for a reason. Rush has put the Cowboys in a position to be a playoff team, shattered many people’s expectations, executed key drives when needed and set his team up in the best position possible, even if the stats do not support him. Rush could even start for some other NFL teams that have poor quarterbacks and are looking for a fresh face. 

But for the Cowboys, there is no advantage to starting Rush here. The only category he beats Prescott in is interceptions, and that is because Rush has significantly less passing attempts than his superior on the depth chart. Unless Prescott comes back and totally stinks, he will perform better than Rush, and give his team a better chance to win a Super Bowl.

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