At the midway point of the 2020 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys are obviously having problems. Jerry Jones & Co. are 2-6 overall, 0-4 on the road, and in third place in what’s easily the worst division in football in the NFC East. While certainly not the Cowboys’ biggest problem (that would still be the defense), the quarterback position has been a major issue for Dallas over the last few weeks following the gruesome ankle injury to Dak Prescott.
Three-time Pro Bowler Andy Dalton stepped in but missed this past Sunday’s game against the Eagles after suffering a concussion against Washington a week earlier and is now on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Rookie Ben DiNucci started against Philadelphia and didn’t look great, completing just 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards, so Mike McCarthy is apparently now contemplating starting Cooper Rush this weekend against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
For those unfamiliar with the former Central Michigan star, here’s everything you need to know about Cooper Rush.
Cooper Rush was a three-year starter in high school
Born in Charlotte, Michigan in November 1993, Cooper Rush attended Lansing Catholic High School and was the starting quarterback for three seasons.
In each of his final two years, Rush led the team to an undefeated regular season and took the Cougars all the way to the Class 5 title game, which Lansing Catholic lost to Flint Powers Catholic. Nevertheless, Cooper Rush was named to the All-State Team and also earned ESPN’s Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year honors. He completed 66.3% of his passes that season for 3,999 yards and 48 touchdowns and also rushed for 770 yards and 16 scores.
Rush left Lansing Catholic with 7,248 passing yards, 80 passing touchdowns, 1,438 rushing yards, and 27 rushing touchdowns. And yet he received just one scholarship offer.
He was a four-year starter at Central Michigan
Central Michigan was the only school to offer Cooper Rush a football scholarship, which he obviously accepted. After redshirting in 2012, Rush began his freshman season as the third-string quarterback but became the starter in the Chippewas’ third game of the 2013 season. Starter Cody Kater fractured his collarbone and second-stringer Alex Niznak struggled when given his chance early in the year. From that point on, Rush never missed a start during his college career.
As a sophomore, Cooper Rush threw seven touchdowns in the Bahamas Bowl against Western Kentucky, setting an NCAA record for most touchdown passes in a bowl game, which LSU’s Joe Burrow tied in the 2019 national semifinal against Oklahoma. Rush enjoyed his best season as a junior in 2015 as he completed 66.3% of his passes for 3,853 yards and 25 touchdowns, also adding three rushing scores.
Rush ended his career at Central Michigan with 12,891 passing yards, 14 yards shy of the all-time MAC record, and 90 touchdown passes, good for seventh on the conference’s all-time list.
Cooper Rush signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent and is in his second stint with the team
Following a subpar performance at the combine, Cooper Rush was not selected in the 2017 NFL draft but was quickly signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He beat out former Miami (OH) quarterback Zac Dysert and veteran Luke McCown to become the Cowboys’ third-string quarterback and eventually surpassed Kellen Moore, who is now Dallas’ offensive coordinator, on the depth chart to become the backup to Dak Prescott.
Rush completed one of three passes in his NFL regular-season debut on October 22, 2017, completing one of three passes for two yards in the Cowboys’ 40-10 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers. He’s appeared in four games since then but hasn’t thrown another pass. Rush was waived by the Cowboys when the team signed Andy Dalton and was claimed by the Giants this past May.
Rush was waived by the Giants in early September and joined their practice squad but was released from that role on September 29. The Dallas Cowboys signed him to the practice squad on October 30 and, as mentioned, he may now be in a position to make his first NFL start.
Jerry Jones came out and said that starting an NFL game might have been too much for Ben DiNucci to handle. Another option for the Cowboys is former Texas and SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was signed off the Browns’ practice squad when Prescott went down. Gilbert has thrown six passes in his NFL career, completing two of them for 40 yards.
Ben DiNucci vs. Garrett Gilbert vs. Cooper Rush. Anyone see that battle coming when the Dallas Cowboys began their 2020 season?