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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.



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.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.

Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
  • DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
  • DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
  • G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable

The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.

Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.

The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.

Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.

Atlanta Falcons

  • LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT

It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.

The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.

So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.



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Dallas Cowboys

4 Best Candidates for Cowboys’ Next Offensive Coordinator

Shane Carter

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Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan

The big word around the Dallas Cowboys lately is about Jason Garrett and the future of the head coaching job. Some have speculated that either Quarterback Dak Prescott or Jason Garrett will get axed, and the other will stay.

Owner Jerry Jones was quoted on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas about his young quarterback, putting to bed at least half of the conflict.

"Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s young and he’s going to get extended."

This shut the door on the idea of Prescott being replaced.

As far as Jason Garrett? Jerry Jones has been less than committed.

"I’m not in the business of backing anybody; the head coach, or offensive coordinator, I just don’t back them publicly." Jerry Jones said.

So it seems that Jason Garrett’s future is up in the air.

But what about offensive coordinator Scott Linehan? What’s held the Cowboys back this year has been the offense, and a lot of it can be contributed to their predictable play calling and inability to adapt to today’s game and its current players.

Whether or not Jason Garrett retains his job, Scott Linehan’s job doesn’t seem near as secure. His scheme doesn’t really mesh with Dak Prescott and how the offense could look. There’s only so many times you can run a three tight end set and not get furious.

Cowboys fans may want Garrett gone but they might have to settle for a new offensive coordinator instead.

The good news is that there are many options out there. Options that not only could work well with Dak Prescott, but could bring the Cowboys offense into the 2010s.

Shane Waldron

Jerry Jones once said how the Cowboys offense was like the LA Rams. If they are able to sign their Co-Offensive Coordinator, then they could be.

When Matt LaFleur left to become the Tennessee Titans OC, the job became a shared job between Waldron and Aaron Kromer. I wonder if Waldron would rather have the job all to himself?

What makes Waldron so appealing is he is also the Rams tight ends coach and passing game coordinator. Those are two areas where the Rams excel and where the Cowboys need help.

Teams are going to start copying the offensive juggernauts of the NFL and the Rams are definitely one of them. The Cowboys should do themselves a favor and get out in front before other teams beat them to it.

Scott Turner

Cam Newton is having one of his best seasons. Not only is he an MVP candidate but he’s set to have career highs in completion percentage and QBR, as well as a career low in interceptions. Cam Newton is a very talented quarterback but some of this has to be attributed to his new Quarterback Coach, Scott Turner.

The son of Norv Turner, Scott has seemingly helped mold Cam into a more accurate passer without compromising who Cam Newton is as an athletic quarterback. That has Dak Prescott written all over it.

He's got NFL lineage and a new, scary Cam Newton to add to his resume. He may not have as impressive a track record as others on here but he looks like he could be a chip off the old block and get the Cowboys where they need to be going.

Lincoln Riley

A popular head coach candidate, Lincoln Riley has shown his creativity and offensive innovation during his short time as Oklahoma’s head coach. It’s uncertain if he’ll get any real offers to be a head coach, but as an OC, he would be a serious grab.

Everyone has seen the work he’s done with Baker Mayfield and now Kyler Murray. How he’s able to incorporate different formations to open up the pass game and have the run game seem unstoppable. Just imagine what he could do with the weapons he would have at his disposal in Dallas.

It's likely that Lincoln Riley is a hot commodity for a head coach position, especially in Cleveland where he could reunite with Baker Mayfield. That shouldn’t stop the Cowboys from trying to lure him to Dallas, though. Lincoln Riley could be the real missing piece that Dallas has been looking for.

Eric Bieniemy

Another product of Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. The former running backs coach has the experience under Andy Reid on not only how to run an offense but to use your weapons at your disposal to the fullest.

Maybe I’m over-hyping this man but when you see the work he helped put in with Pat Mahomes and how he uses those weapons around him, it makes me imagine what he can do for the Cowboy offense.

The team has no shortage of weapons and could benefit greatly from a guy like this.

If the Chiefs make it past their first playoff game, Bieniemy could become a more attractive name when it comes time for new head coaches. However, if Jerry Jones comes calling and the right offer is met, who’s to say?

If Kris Richard can be lured from Seattle to fix the Cowboys defense, Eric Bieniemy can be lured from Kansas City to fix the Cowboys offense.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.

As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.

The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.

It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.

Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.

Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.

If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.

The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.

In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.

Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.

It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.

The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.

Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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