Monday, September 26, 2022

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott called out after Cooper Rush start

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According to an NFL legend, Dak Prescott could learn a thing or two from his backup quarterback.

After the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, Hall of Famer quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young noted that Prescott could learn “Basics” from Cooper Rush.

“I will [Dak Prescott] really studying Cooper Rush. … It’s about doing the basic things that can really help Dak when he comes back,” Young said.

While there are certainly things Prescott could improve on — he’s led Dallas to just one playoff win in his six seasons as a starting quarterback — it could be a bit of an overreaction from Young.

Prescott may not be one of the league’s elite quarterbacks, but he’s arguably one of the top 10 quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Prescott posted an 83.8 offensive grade for the 2021 season, ranking eighth among the league’s starting quarterbacks. There’s a reason the Cowboys invested $160 million in him and it’s because of the 29-year-old is a franchise quarterback.

As solid as Rush was in Dallas’ win over Cincinnati, it was just a start. The longtime backup has just started two career games. It’s hardly a large enough sample size to conclude that Prescott needs to learn a thing or two from Rush, especially considering the veteran quarterback is coming off a 12-win season with the Cowboys.

Second, it’s not like Rush set the world on fire in its previous launch. He was more solid than anything, completing 19 of 31 pass attempts for a touchdown and a 95.5 quarterback rating.

As CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin notes, the Cowboys’ offense compared to Prescott falls off drastically when Rush starts.

“The Cowboys’ 1.90 point-per-drive average in Rush’s starts would have sent the team down from the No. 1 league ranking a year ago to No. 12, and the percentage of the team’s drives that ended in a punt is would have gone down from 35% below Prescott (1% better than league average, 13th in the NFL) to 43% below Rush (30th in the NFL), according to TruMedia,” says Dubin.

Dubin also points out that Rush’s goals tend to stray off target and that he’s taking more sacks despite feeling less pressure than Prescott.

“Rush also missed 20% of his shots based on TruMedia tracking,” says Dubin. “That would be the lowest grade of any quarterback if Rush had thrown enough passes to qualify, while Prescott’s 10% mark ranks 11th best of 32 such passes. Rush also took more sacks than Prescott (19% of dropbacks under pressure vs. 15%), although he was less frequently pressured (25% of dropbacks vs. 31%).

Rush definitely exceeded expectations during his short stint as a starter, but it was only two starts. With Rush potentially starting in the next few weeks considering Prescott is recovering from thumb surgery, we’ll see how he continues to fare in extended actions. Upcoming games against the New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles will be the ultimate litmus test for Rush.

If Rush continues to maintain his level of play and the Cowboys continue to win, only then will Young’s argument hold water.

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