As a diehard fan of the blue and silver, I came into this game optimistic.
Losing the way we lost, I leave even more optimistic.
Cooper Rush, in the Limelight of Sunday Night Football
The Cowboys rallied around Cooper Rush. And after each of his wins, the pressure continued piling on as he orchestrated the offense for America's Team. There's probably not another position as high-profile as being the Cowboys quarterback in sports. In fact, you could say it's Quarterback of the Cowboys, capital. Q.
Since his start, a debate around Cooper Rush emerged. Right or wrong, people questioned whether he should take the spot of Dak Prescott, the Cowboys named starter before he broke his thumb in an ugly opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For all the great things about Rush, tonight exposed him for what he is, which is actually way much more than I'd ever hoped for.
Make no mistake, Cooper Rush is a backup quarterback. At least in my mind. But he's the kind of backup quarterback whose picture you could put in the dictionary under backup quarterback, and that would suffice.
While Cooper Rush earned his start against Philadelphia, his weaknesses displayed in this game helped to paint a clearer picture as to what Cooper Rush actually is.
And I'd say Cooper Rush is a damn good backup quarterback — maybe even be the best backup in the league. But a backup nonetheless. Cooper Rush limits where you can throw the ball with effectiveness, without turning it over, so your offense can never reach its potential with Cooper Rush. But Cooper Rush can bring out the potential of your offense, if that makes sense.
Dak's Leadership and Poise During the Recent Media Crap Storm
During the past few weeks, I've been impressed with how Dak has kept his head down and rehabbed through to the point where I think he likely could have played today. In fact, I think the Eagles were hoping he wouldn't play. And of course, we didn't.
Despite what the fans thought, I'm pretty sure the right call was to play Dak tonight despite the fact Rush had led us to a 4-1 record after losing the opener.
If they're honest with themselves, as a team, it was the defense that carried Rush through those wins more than anything. In a different offense, Cooper Rush might work better than Dak. But in the offense we currently run, with our current players, that extra arm strength of Dak really matters.
Cooper Rush Could be Dak's Biggest Ever Blessing
As a quarterback, all you can ask for is to have enough talent around you to be able to win. And Dak has the talent around him in 2022. I'm not sure we can say Romo definitely had enough talent around him to get it done, but I think we can say Dak at least has enough talent around him to get it done against a team like the Eagles. They just didn't get it done tonight.
Notice I didn't say Dak has the most talent. But I am saying he has enough.
It's up to him to prove he earns the salary.
Afterall, that's really why fans criticize him. He takes up a significant portion of the overall cap. Shouldn't he earn it?
Dak Should Take Note of Cooper Rush's Playbook
The thing I would like to see is Dak take a page from Rush's playbook and just drive the bus. When you need a big play, make one. But live to see another down.
Cooper Rush brough stability because he was predictable. You could count on him not to turn it over, and make some plays for you.
That is, until the Eagles dissected his weaknesses and apparently spent time game-planning around exploiting those weaknesses. Kudos to them. They came in this game with the right gameplan. And it worked. In the future, I would just like to see Dak take a page from Rush's approach, especially with this team.
Trust and Rely on those Rookie Tight Ends
You need to fully incorporate the rookie tight ends into the offense. The Cowboys seem to kind of want to involve Ferguson and Hendershot. But they don't do it until after their in a position to have to force a play to them.
Involve these guys naturally, scheme around both of them, and you will be less predictable.
Why Abandon Pre-Snap Motions?
The thing I've always thought that made Kellen Moore unique and successful was how he used pre snap motions to disguise the responsibilities of the defensive player until the last second. He seemed to get into a rhythm with it during our wins.
During this game, after the reverse on the first play, I didn't see any pre-snap motions, and the Cowboys were just running the same old plays we always ran in the Zempese, Turner, Garrett days. Then we got on a run for a bit, by running some play action off of those boring run plays, but we weren't mixing it up outside of that. And by this time, Moore's play calling exacerbated Quinn's subpar play calling.
I don't need a stat sheet to know we lost the Xs and Os battle on both sides of the ball.
I fully put this loss on the coaching staff.
McCarthy flat out missed a chance to contest the spot of the ball, which resulted in us punting rather than a first down for the offense.
HUGE MISTAKE on his part. And no excuse for that, and both of his coordinators were off tonight.
The refs did not help. Overall, I thought we looked flat as a team. But I think that it all came down to Dan Quinn getting outcoached in the Xs nd Os department in this particular game. He needs to realize that coordinators are studying him, and cover his bases on this by self-scouting. Those key, game-changing dump offs to the flats are totally preventable, and kind of inexcusable. I felt bad for Parsons, and the whole defense, really. Bad night for Quinn…..
On the other side of the ball, Kellen Moore also got outcoached. There's plenty he could have done without throwing the ball into traffic, or isolating, downsizing the field, for Rush, especially early on before it was necessary.
I can't say Rush made the best decision. But as an OC, you should already know that nerves are high. I'm not against taking a strike down the field early on, but those interceptions were ugly.
From the call to the throw, the Cowboy needed to clean this up. And there's nothing like a loss like this for a team to play like their pants are on fire during a season.
As much as I know we are all disgusted by the loss, I hope this game motivates our players and serves the team as a blessing in disguise. But they shouldn't be too hard on themselves. Their coaches failed them this game. It's up to the coaches to figure out why, and correct the issues moving forward.