Cooper Rush's tenure as Cowboys starting quarterback anything but a failure


Cooper Rush failed to beat Philadelphia. But his tenure as the Cowboys starting quarterback was anything but a failure.

Do no harm. That was basically the organization’s charge to Rush after Dak Prescott suffered an extra-articular fracture to his right thumb in the fourth quarter of the team’s opening loss to Tampa Bay. Scrape out a victory or two along the way so Prescott won’t face an insurmountable task upon his return.

Rush has done that and more. The Cowboys are 4-1 in Prescott’s absence. He has beaten Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford, the two quarterbacks who faced off in Super Bowl LVI. The Eagles, New York Giants and Minnesota are the only teams in the conference with a better record than Dallas on the eve of Prescott’s return.

All three are on the Cowboys schedule before Christmas.

Rush has left this team in better shape than he found it. He deserves the respect and heartfelt thanks of Cowboys nation as he prepares to once again fade into the background.

“When you look at Cooper’s performance, I think you start with the wins,’’ head coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s the most difficult position in our game. He kept us in full game plans which is where you want to be with your backup quarterback. When you’re able to continue playing like that, your offense has a chance to grow.

“So not only winning games, No. 1, but I think the ability to conceptually stay on course, get through your menus of what you work on at training camp. He gave us that opportunity and should be recognized for that.

“He’s put us in a good spot.’’

Monday marked five weeks since Prescott underwent surgery. He has not yet been medically cleared to return, but that’s considered a formality that will be completed before Wednesday’s practice.

The next threshold, in McCarthy’s mind, is for Prescott to regain his timing. That’s why the club had the quarterback throw individual routes on air as much as he could last week even though the veteran wasn’t cleared to return team drills.

The plan is for Prescott to have a full load in practice this week.

“I think we’ve checked the boxes,’’ McCarthy said.

The next box to check is this weekend’s game against Detroit. All signs point to Prescott taking the field.

That will once again push Rush to the sidelines.

Rush has completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 1,020 yards and five touchdowns. After falling behind the New York Giants, Washington Commanders and Los Angeles Rams in consecutive weeks, Rush responded by leading a 75-yard touchdown drive in each of those games to regain control.

The fifth-year pro had 121 pass attempts without an interception until his fall from grace against the Eagles. Philadelphia’s goal was to put the outcome of the game in his hands.

“First, it had to be stopping the run to make him throw the ball,’’ cornerback Darius Slay said. “Second half they got it going and still trusted him to throw.

“But we lined up and just said, “Make him beat us.’’’

Rush couldn’t. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes with three interceptions for a 37.3 quarterback rating. This followed a win over the Rams where he completed 10 passes – none to a running back or tight end – and threw for 102 yards.

Don’t take this as a knock on what Rush has accomplished. It’s simply a reminder that he’s a backup quarterback.

Prolonged playing time usually puts into focus why a player is a backup. That doesn’t diminish his contribution.

It enhances it.

“Coop has been a phenomenal example of what we tell so many guys, just take advantage of your opportunities,’’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said.

“Obviously, everyone is frustrated at this point at the ending of this last game. It’s not the way we anticipated or wanted it to go. But wide respect for him. He’s done a really nice job for us.

“He’s put us in a good position.’’

Better than anyone in the organization had a right to expect.

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