This is the game we may finally learn what Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush is all about.
This is the one that may decide if Dallas, who does not have a quarterback controversy, perhaps should have one. Or if the franchise predictably needs its starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, to get back in the lineup as quickly as possible because the backup has been unmasked.
So, yes, this is a big week for Cowboys and Cooper Rush and Prescott.
And, of course, it’s a big week for the Philadelphia Eagles because they host the Cowboys on Sunday night, with the lead in the NFC East at stake.
Storybook Start For Cooper Rush … So Far
Until now Rush has been living the charmed life of a backup quarterback who is winning. And he’s not just winning. The guy is undefeated in four starts since Prescott was sidelined by a fractured bone in his throwing hand.
In stepped Rush, in his fifth season, finally getting his chance to show what he could do. And a storybook thing happened as the Cowboys are 4-0 with Rush starting and gaining confidence.
“[You] just keep getting confidence from what we’ve done and learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward,” Rush said. “You just stay who you are, within yourself. Kind of realize that it is just football again.
“It’s just a bigger stage and you’re playing with better players. You can freak yourself out about things but once you’re in there it’s just ball again. It’s kind of what you’re meant to do.”
It must be said 4-0 Rush has not been bombing away and setting defenses ablaze. He’s mostly managing the game and not making costly mistakes while the Dallas defense and running game has carried the team.
“This is a defensive-first operation,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said during the week. “That’s mandated by the head coach, because that’s our strength.”
Rush, nonetheless, has not ruined the operation because he hasn’t made costly mistakes. He is the NFL’s only quarterback that’s played more than one game who can say he hasn’t thrown a pick. And he is, in fact, the only qualifying quarterback (based on attempts) without a turnover at all.
He’s also 12th with a passer rating of 93.9, which is better than Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan.
The Eagles Reaction To Cooper Rush
The Eagles may see these statistics and decide they don’t love the idea of seeing Rush throw the ball against man coverage.
But more likely, the league’s No. 4 pass defense and the best overall defense Rush has faced this year, may decide their cornerbacks — Darius Slay and James Bradberry — can match up with Dallas receivers and it is the running game they must stop.
To do that, they would have to believe Rush cannot hurt them throwing the football. To do that, they would have to believe Rush is a mirage. To do that, they would be setting Rush up for his most difficult test yet.
And that’s what’s coming, folks. Everyone is predicting that.
“They’re good in all three levels,” Rush said. “Everything starts up front. They’re deep and good pass rushers, good against the run. Their secondary, the two corners, they trust those guys back there and let those two safeties go play ball. So it’s a good group, good challenge for us. But we’re excited.”
Rush’s excitement now is nice. But what matters is if people in Dallas are still excited about him after this pivotal game.
Or if they’re excited about Dak Prescott getting back to the starting lineup next week.
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For a look at the rest of Sunday’s slate, check out Dan Zaksheske’s “NFL Week 6 Watchability Rankings.”