Detailing Cooper Rush’s unlikely rise to history as record-setting Dallas Cowboys QB

Adam Hunger/AP

Cooper Rush’s remarkable stay as Dallas Cowboys quarterback will likely last for one or two more games.

Dak Prescott, the team’s franchise quarterback who missed missed the past two games after undergoing surgery to repair with a fractured right thumb, got the stitches out Monday and wouldn’t rule out playing Sunday against the Washington Commanders.

But a return either Oct. 9 at the Los Angeles Rams or the Oct. 16 at the Philadelphia Eagles are most likely, per owner Jerry Jones.

“I think his progress is nothing short of amazing,” Jones said. “It’s a question of whether or not he’ll be able to grip and throw the ball, and we don’t know that.”

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Prescott “still has some swelling he has to deal with.” Once swelling down, it becomes about strength. And then throwing he will start throwing.

“He’ll be dealing with more rehab this week and hopefully we’ll get the swelling and the strength where it needs to be,” McCarthy said. “But I do not have a timeline on when he will start throwing.”

Of course, Prescott already threw the some passes before Monday’s 23-16 victory against the New York Giants. So it’s just a matter of when.

What we know for sure is what Rush has done in place of Prescott of the past two games is nothing short of monumental, unforgettable and historic.

What the Cowboys are most excited about is that Rush has saved their season, leading to back-to-back victories over the Cincinnati Bengals (20-17) and Giants after hope was seemingly lost when Prescott went down in the disappointing 19-3 season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

At 2-1, they are in the remain in the thick of the NFC East race and no longer have the angst of needing to rush Prescott back into the lineup.

“I just think you’ve got to trust the medical,” McCarthy said. “How the guy is playing in front of you, it doesn’t [matter] … it’s a long year. We do know that. The biggest thing for Dak is just to get healthy. I view those as two separate topics.”

For Rush in Prescott’s absence, it’s been a matter of wins.

He simply can’t lose. He now 3-0 in his career as a starter in place Prescott, including a comeback victory against the Minnesota Vikings in his first career start last season.

Rush joins Hall of Famer Roger Staubach and Jason Garrett as the only Cowboys starting QBs to win their first three career starts.

According to NFL Research, Rush is the first undrafted QB to win each of his first 3 NFL starts and throw for 750+ yards over those starts since Kurt Warner of the-then St. Louis Rams in 1999. He won NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP that season.

Rush also is the first QB since at least 1950 to win his first three career starts while having a 60-plus completion percentage, 200-plus pass yards and 90-plus passer rating in each start.

Rush also became one of two quarterbacks in NFL history to have a game-winning drive in each of their first three career starts in the Super Bowl era. The other was Chicago Bears quarterback Virgil Carter in 1968.

That he has a chance to go 4-0 in his first three starts, including 3-0 in 2022 is even more remarkable when you consider his unlikely journey to history.

Rush joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2017, beating out offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for the backup job behind Prescott.

But when McCarthy was hired in 2020, the Cowboys signed Andy Dalton as a veteran backup to Prescott. After drafting Ben DiNucci to be the team’s developmental third quarterback, they had no room for Rush.

He was released and then signed with the Giants where former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has signed on as offensive coordinator.

But the Cowboys cut Rush twice. He was cut before the start of the season and signed to the practice squad. He was then replaced on the practice squad by Clayton Thorson that September.

It was a moment not lost on Rush’s wife Lauryn on Instagram after Monday’s win over the Giants.

“No better play in football than victory formation,” Lauryn began on her Instagram Story. “Two years ago almost to the freaking day the Giants cut Cooper because they wanted to just ‘rotate in other QBs and see’. Lolz. Fast forward…. Monday freaking night in MetLife and starting for AMERICA’S TEAM.”

Even more interesting is that return to the Cowboys was not promised for Rush once he was cut by the Giants.

He was only brought back, signing to the practice squad, after Prescott suffered a tragic fractured ankle against the Giants, sidelining him for the final 11 games of the season.

It’s begs the question that would Rush even be here to get this opportunity if Prescott hadn’t been injured in 2020?

Or if the Giants had good sense?

Where would he be?

What we know is Rush made his way back up the depth chart in Dallas, earning the backup job over Garrett Gilbert last season and proving what he could do with the comeback win over the Vikings.

He beat out Will Grier in training camp in 2022 to retain his position, setting the stage for this historic and unforgettable run.

Rush, Prescott and the Cowboys are enjoying every moment of it.