Every NFL team has an emergency plan, an insurance policy, or something akin to a panic button when it comes to the health and availability of their franchise quarterback. The reality is some teams have better contingency plans than others in the subjective rankings of backup passers.
In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, the loss of $160 million man Dak Prescott represents a crushing blow. He’s out six to eight weeks and will undergo surgery to repair the damage suffered to his right thumb against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. X-rays revealed a fracture.
Dak Prescott suffers ‘significant injury’ in Week 1 loss vs. Buccaneers
In the postgame press conference following their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday evening, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said, “It’s a significant injury.”
The injury itself is significant, and to play without Prescott is also significant. In the dozen games he’s been sidelined between 2020 and 2021, the replacements for Prescott went 5-7 and averaged just 216 yards and 21 points per game.
“It’s very disappointing, but injuries happen, can’t necessarily control it, just unfortunate,” Prescott told Dallas reporters “Obviously going to miss some time, not be there for my team and that’s what hurts more than anything, especially after the start we just put out there. Wanted to be able to respond, and not necessarily having that opportunity for several weeks, yeah it’s unfortunate. But I’ll do what I’ve always done anytime adversity comes, take it on head-first and give my best and I’m sure I’ll come out of this thing better.”
Cooper Rush is the man of the moment in Dallas and will be the starting quarterback for the Cowboys until Prescott is ready to go. That’s the plan, per a league source. The Cowboys are expected to promote Will Grier from the practice squad to the active roster to back up Rush. The Cowboys haven’t immediately turned to former Dallas quarterback Ben DiNucci for their practice squad, per a source.
A big trade is not anticipated at this time, contrary to speculation about Jimmy Garoppolo, Mason Rudolph, Nick Foles, or other quarterbacks, per a league source.
Rush knows what’s expected of him
“Just go do your job,” Rush said after the Tampa Bay game. “Just execute. It’s the same plays, it’s the same other guys, we’ve still got everyone else. I trust in those guys, they trust in me, just all come together as a group and make plays and execute.”
Rush, now the leader of an 0-1 team, is aware that Prescott’s absence will impact the team and knows it’s his job to hold the fort down until Prescott is healthy enough to return.
“He’s the heart and soul of the team,” Rush said. “He’s our leader. He’ll grind through this like he always does and he’ll be back.”
Who is Cooper Rush?
Rush, 29, is a former undrafted free agent from Central Michigan. He won his only NFL start a year ago when Prescott injured his calf, and he was impressive with 325 passing yards, and two touchdown passes in a 20-16 victory.
Thrown into action in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay, Rush was prepared. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 64 yards.
At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he’s regarded as a pure pocket passer. He has completed 60.3 percent of his career throws for 488 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in 11 career games.
In college, he was prolific with 3,848 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior and 3,540 passing yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior. He set a bowl game record with seven touchdown passes as a junior. He finished with 12,894 career yards and 90 touchdowns and played in the East-West Shrine bowl.
The Michigan native passed for 7,248 yards and 80 touchdowns in high school. His only scholarship offers were from Central Michigan and Toledo, and he opted to stay home and play for the Chippewas instead of accepting preferred walk-on offers from Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern.