Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Called Out After Cooper Rush Start

Dak Prescott

Getty Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is being called out by NFL legend Steve Young.

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

Following the Dallas Cowboys’ Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Hall-of-Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young remarked that Prescott could learn “fundamentals” from Cooper Rush.

“I want [Dak Prescott] to really study Cooper Rush. … It’s doing the fundamental things that can really help Dak when he comes back,” Young said.

Rush’s Starts Are a Small Sample Size

While there are certainly things Prescott could improve upon — he has led Dallas to just one playoff victory during his six seasons as starting quarterback — this may be a bit of an overreaction from Young.

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

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

Secondly, it’s not as if Rush set the world on fire during his previous start. He was more solid than anything else, completing 19-of-31 pass attempts for one touchdown and a 95.5 quarterback rating.

Cowboys Offense Drops off With Rush Compared to Prescott

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

“The Cowboys’ 1.90 points per drive average in Rush’s starts would have seen the team drop from the league’s No. 1 scoring offense a year ago to No. 12, and the share of the team’s drives that ended in a punt would have dropped from 35% under Prescott (1% better than league average, 13th in the NFL), to 43% under Rush (30th in the NFL), according to TruMedia,” says Dubin.

Dubin also points out how Rush’s targets tend to be off-target and how he takes a greater amount of sacks despite feeling less pressure than Prescott.

“Rush has also been off-target on 20% of his throws, per TruMedia’s tracking,” says Dubin. “That would be the worst mark among all quarterbacks if Rush had thrown enough passes to qualify, while Prescott’s 10% mark ranks 11th-best out of 32 such passers. Rush has also taken sacks at a higher rate than Prescott (19% of pressured dropbacks vs. 15%) despite being pressured less often (25% of dropbacks vs. 31%).”

Rush has definitely exceeded expectations during his brief stint as starter, but it’s only been two starts. With Rush potentially starting the next several weeks considering Prescott is recovering from thumb surgery, we’ll see how he continues to perform in extended action. Upcoming games versus the New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles will be the ultimate litmus test for Rush.

If Rush continues to keep up his level of play and the Cowboys continue winning, only then will Young’s argument hold merit.

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