Sitting out of a preseason game is usually detrimental to a player fighting for a job. But for Will Grier, a candidate to be the Dallas Cowboys' backup quarterback in 2022, not playing last night may have only strengthened his position.
With Dak Prescott among the many starters who didn't suit up in Denver, the night belonged to the backups. Grier was also held out of action due to a groin injury suffered earlier in the week but was a game-time decision, meaning he'll hopefully play in next Saturday's meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Instead, we got a heavy dose of Cooper Rush last night and nobody's feeling great about it this morning. While the Cowboys' offense woes were multi-faceted, Rush looked uncomfortable and didn't provide the stabilizing presence you'd want from a sixth-year veteran.
It didn't help when Ben DiNucci entered the game in the 3rd quarter and helped get Dallas its only touchdown of the night. While we have to remember that he was playing against the Broncos' third-tier talent, DiNucci was also playing with the Cowboys' lesser offensive linemen and receivers and still provided a spark.
But while DiNucci showed some moxie, nobody's clamoring for him to be QB2 going forward. The focus is now on Will Grier and what the former 3rd-round pick can do when we finally see him on the field.
Remember, Grier has never thrown a pass for the Cowboys even in preseason games. He was claimed off waivers during final cuts in 2021 and remained sidelined all season behind Prescott and Rush.
With other options not inspiring confidence, the mystery behind Grier is now increasing his perceived value. It also helps that he's been getting a lot of praise in camp from his coaches and has been involved in some highlight moments from practices.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on QB Will Grier: “I think Will’s made a step. Clearly.” His first offseason with team after being signed last September. “You can feel the command. …He’s playing much quicker.” Offers playmaking with arm and athletic ability. pic.twitter.com/kpZqSXKEG0
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 9, 2022
Had Grier played last night, who knows? Maybe the penalties, poor protection, and dropped passes still happen and he would've looked as ineffective as Rush.
But now, instead of being seen as part of the problem, Grier goes into next week as a hoped-for solution. How he performs in Los Angeles next Saturday night will be one of the most-discussed stories from that game.
That said, it's probably too soon to start calling the backup QB job Grier's to lose. Dallas isn't going to dump Cooper Rush based on one bad night playing with backups. They haven't forgotten how he performed last year in Minnesota, helping the Cowboys win a critical regular-season game with Dak Prescott missing.
Still, with Grier already getting hype going into last night, the Broncos game only moved the needle more in his direction. The feeling going into camp was that Will would have to oust Rush from the QB2 position. Now you get the sense that they have equal claims on the role.
Round Two of this fight is a week away. Will Grier didn't even have to throw a punch to win the first one. For the Cowboys' sake, he'll hopefully land a haymaker against the Chargers.