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LAR 13, DAL 10: QB Cooper Rush Emerges in Cowboys Loss

Jess Haynie

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Cooper Rush

With Cowboys Nation still reeling from the Ezekiel Elliott suspension news yesterday, the team hopped down from Oxnard to Los Angeles to face the Rams in their second of five preseason games. In a fumble-filled game that felt more like hot potato than football, the music finally stopped on the Cowboys as they fell short 13-10.

Cooper Rush

QB Cooper Rush

The story of this game for the Cowboys wasn’t the fumbling (four for Dallas, five for Los Angeles) or a meaningless preseason loss. The major takeaway was the play of undrafted rookie quarterback Cooper Rush, who was easily the most impressive Cowboys passer on the night.

Outplaying both of his veteran teammates, Kellen Moore and Luke McCown, Rush entered the game to start the third quarter and put up 104 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-11 passing. His touchdown throw to Rico Gathers was perfection; a 25-yard beauty dropped over the defender and right into Gathers’ arms as he entered the endzone.

While Moore and McCown both looked rattled at times and had poor delivery on some throws, Rush built on last week’s decent debut with a far stronger showing. This isn’t to say that he’s anywhere close to taking someone’s job, but Cooper may be changing our assumptions about how many quarterbacks the Cowboys will keep in 2017.

Other Notes

  • It was very encouraging to see how Darren McFadden performed tonight after last week’s slow start, especially given what’s happening with Elliott. McFadden showed the same athletic ability we remember for 2015 as he got 28 yards on six carries and had one 8-yard reception. It probably helped that Travis Frederick and Zack Martin were playing to start the game, as opposed to last week.
  • Rico Gathers continues to make noise, finishing the night with four catches for 47 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. We saw him playing out of the typical tight end spots but also lining up in the slot, and his mismatch problems for the opposition were clear. The question for Rico isn’t if he’ll make the team this year, but just how high up the TE depth chart he’ll be.
  • Taco Charlton got to unburden himself a little with a nice sack on Sean Mannion during the first quarter. Taco had little trouble powering through the offensive tackle and getting a free run at Mannion, taking him just in front of his own goal line. After all of the negativity coming from the Hall of Fame game, it was great to see Charlton get some positive attention.
  • Sixth-round rookie WR Noah Brown was having a nice showing on three catches for 41 yards but lost some points for an unforced, open-field fumble. With the top-five WR spots seemingly decided for Dallas, Brown and the other prospects can’t afford many bad steps if they want to force the team to keep six guys.
  • Another sixth-round guy, safety Xavier Woods, led the team with seven tackles and was visible through the game. Teammate Kavon Frazier wasn’t far behind, though, with five tackles and a nice return on a fumble recovery. We’ve yet to see anything out of veteran Robert Blanton, giving the younger players the edge right now for the backup roles.
  • While we’re excited for Ryan Switzer’s debut for many reasons, perhaps my biggest one right now is to see a new kick and punt returner. Lance Lenoir is just a camp body, and he plays like it.
  • While his pass protection left much to be desired, QB Luke McCown’s play wasn’t far behind. He didn’t look good on the throws that weren’t affected by pressure. Granted, he’s only been with the team for less than two weeks. However, he still takes up a roster spot that could be going to a younger guy with upside.
  • Rod Smith did not get to build on last week’s performance, only getting one carry and one catch in the game. There weren’t a lot of carries to go around anyway; McFadden and Alfred Morris combined for just 11 rushing attempts themselves. This was more likely an anomaly due to the flow of the game than any issue with Smith.

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I’ll be sure to respond!

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6 Comments
  • Willie Rogers

    Thank goodness McCown is no more than a camp body, Rush may force the cowboys too keep 3 qb’s, because I doubt seriously the cowboys will get rid of Moore, but Rush looks like he may have that IT thing.

    • Russ_Te

      if you watch Rush on the strike to Gathers, perfect. He read that Gathers had a LB on him with no S back. Lofted it over the top exactly as Gathers broke to the goal line.

      Another game like this one, and he won’t get past waivers onto the practice squad. Moore had better play better, or Dallas will have to keep 3 QB’s. What a story for a walk on.

  • nick

    Think rush has been the best quarterback on the field again for 2 straight games now.

  • John Williams

    I know that at this point, Rush is merely a practice squad or QB3 on the roster. I wonder though, if he continues to play like he’s played and Moore plays like he played last night if Rush might threaten for the QB2 job.

  • Stephen L. Holley

    Lose Moore & McCown !!! Keep Rush and sign Manziel to strickly incentives ( even for a donut or glass of water)….do nothing….get nothing!!!!!

  • Russ_Te

    Gathers: It’s only a blocking ? now IMO. Another tough catch in traffic last night, and a nice break to the goal line to smoke a LB.

    I watched him fire off in run block a couple times, one wasn’t bad. No shortage of will it seems, and that is the biggest element. Seek & destroy frame of mind. He’ll learn the technical side. The guy applied himself in his practice-squad year, that seems pretty apparent.

    Taco: trimmer IMO than his draft-day clips looked. He had straight-line burst on his sack. But if you watch his first step off the ball, he’s not a Demarcus Ware. I still think he may get moved inside – add some bulk, get those arms up.

    Woods: All over the lot in the 2nd half, monster hit to force a fumble that was then reversed. But the hit stands. Watch this kid from here.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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Dallas Cowboys

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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