Not everyone is as invested in the Dallas Cowboys as contenders in 2022, but there are certainly more people who believe they’re competitive than there used to be. Tuesday is power rankings day around the NFL and when the dust settled following the Week 4 games, many outlets had much higher opinions than they did a few weeks ago.
Not everyone is a believer though, as Dallas still hovers around the middle of the pack in some circles, despite being one of just eight teams with a winning record. The Cowboys have done so as winners of three straight, all with a backup quarterback under center. One would think that speaks to the overall ability of the club, but alas.
6. Cowboys (3-1; No. 9): Cooper Rush is the Cowboys’ next Tony Romo, at a time when they don’t need another Tony Romo.
Cooper Rush has done a great job in place of Dak Prescott as the Cowboys have won three straight. The defense is carrying the team.
9. Cowboys (10): Cooper Rush is the first quarterback in NFL history to win his first four starts while exceeding a 90.0 passer rating in each of them. (Incidentally, before we ship him out, worth noting Dak Prescott lost his initial NFL start before winning the next 11. His QB rating during that rookie hot streak was 114.3.)
8. Dallas Cowboys (3-1, LW: 12)
The Cowboys are 3-0 since Dak Prescott got hurt. No, this is not a “Cooper Rush should be the QB” statement, because that’s nonsensical. But it probably paves the way for Rush to have a long career as an expensive backup, and it’s setting Dallas up very well for when Prescott returns. The Eagles are fantastic but the NFC East race isn’t over.
Last week: No. 10
As fun as the Cooper Rush versus Dak Prescott debate is, the Cowboys’ defense is the real MVP through this three-game stretch. The offense is still struggling and is actually third-worst at third down conversions at 30.2%. A lot of Dallas’ problems are still being masked, which is why they get a one-slot boost in the power rankings.
9. Dallas Cowboys 3-1 (11)
Cooper Rush keeps playing well with all their weapons in a great passing system and their defense keeps bringing it with pass rush and coverage. They were built better than expected to thrive without Dak Prescott.
Last week’s rank: 13
Cooper Rush is 4-0 as a starter in his NFL career. I don’t know what to do with that information, but here we are. We should probably be talking more about the Dallas defense, which hasn’t allowed 20-plus points in a game yet this season. Granted, the Cowboys’ last two were against Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz, but it’s still a positive trend for a team whose offense lacks consistency.
(Last week: 17)
What they are: Fierce up front.
The Cowboys lead the league in pressure rate (41.7 percent, per TruMedia). If you’re inclined to question a subjective measure like that, as we all should be, they have also hit the quarterback on 36 of 157 dropbacks, per TruMedia, good for a league-best 22.9 percent clip. Bob Sturm has more on the Dallas defense.
After things looked dire following Dak Prescott’s Week 1 injury, the Cowboys are all of a sudden loaded with a potentially elite defense and a returning quarterback just in time for a Week 6 showdown in Philadelphia with big division implications.
It felt like the Cowboys were doomed when Dak Prescott went down with a Week 1 thumb injury that required surgery. Instead, Dallas finds itself riding a three-game win streak, thanks in large part to a defense that’s been close to dominant. The Cowboys have given up a single touchdown in each of their four games, taking the pressure off Cooper Rush and allowing the backup QB to play in a controlled environment with a positive game script. Rush has taken that nice setup and run with it, building chemistry with CeeDee Lamb and immediately finding a connection with Michael Gallup — playing in his first game since suffering a torn ACL in January — in Sunday’s win over the Commanders. There’s no question this remains Dak’s job, but there’s no need to rush him back when you’ve got … Rush.
As with the Browns, we’re in a wait-and-see pattern with the Dallas Cowboys. Being 3-0 after losing Dak Prescott is a welcome sight, but the Cowboys’ offense is still a massive work in progress. Even when Prescott returns, there’s no guarantee they’ll turn things around on that side of the ball.
Dallas’ defense, however, is suffocating. The secondary is playing some outstanding football, and they rush the passer incredibly well. Dan Quinn has mixed up looks on the front seven and has seen several clean looks for rushers with line games. The defense is why they’re on a three-game win streak.
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-1 | last week: 20)
Cooper Rush is keeping the ’Boys alive right now, and I really can’t believe it. After a 25-10 win over the Commanders in Week 4, Rush remains undefeated in the NFL as a starter and has the Cowboys tied for second with the Giants in the NFC East. I wrote the Cowboys off after the injury to Dak Prescott in the team’s embarrassing Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers, but Rush and a Micah Parsons–led defense have proved me wrong. Dallas still isn’t deep-postseason competitive until Prescott returns to the starting lineup healthy, and there are still concerns with the team’s lackluster receiving corps and offensive line, but the door is open for Dallas to be a surprise playoff contender in January as long as the Cowboys keep grinding out wins with Rush at the helm.