Keyshawn Johnson thinks Cowboys should stick with Cooper Rush if he beats Eagles


The year of the backup continued Sunday with Cooper Rush leading Dallas to another improbable victory, this time beating the Rams on their home turf (though it was admittedly hard to tell with all the Cowboys fans in attendance). In conquering the defending Super Bowl champs, Rush improved to 5-0 as a starter, the same record as his next opponent, the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.

While Dak Prescott is said to be making good progress in his recovery from a broken thumb, an injury suffered in the Cowboys’ season-opening loss to Tampa Bay, his availability against the Eagles is still in doubt with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noting he’d need to make “significant strides” to have a realistic chance of playing. The Cowboys, for their part, have gone out of their way to downplay the looming possibility of a quarterback controversy, insisting that, when healthy, this is Dak’s team. Of course, others might disagree, including former Cowboy Keyshawn Johnson, who says, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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“If [Rush] gets the start against the Eagles, and they win the game and he plays well … then my conversation is, we’re not going to change anything in Detroit. We’re going to allow Cooper Rush to remain the starter, and that’s what I would do,” Johnson expressed Monday on his morning radio show. “I would keep him as the starter if he contributes and they beat the Eagles. He has to contribute. It can’t be in spite of him.”

Former ESPN personality Bill Simmons, now of The Ringer, has written extensively on a phenomenon known as the “Ewing Theory” (obviously in reference to Knicks great Patrick Ewing), where teams, for whatever reason, play better without their franchise star. That seems to be the case in Dallas, where Rush, no one’s idea of an elite quarterback (though, to his credit, he’s yet to throw an interception), has inexplicably led the Cowboys to four straight wins. Some would argue the Cowboys are obligated to start Dak because of how much money he’s owed (only seven players are paid a higher annual salary than Prescott’s $40 million AAV). However, Johnson doesn’t think that should matter, as long as Dallas continues to play winning football.

“I can’t, at 80 years old, try to win a championship, [while worrying] about the money that I already committed to,” said Johnson, citing Tom Brady replacing Drew Bledsoe as the Patriots’ starter after the latter was injured in 2001. “If I’m committed to this money, and I’m not winning, what good does that serve me if I’m Jerry Jones?”

If anything, Rush’s surprising competence allows the Cowboys to be patient with Dak’s recovery, letting him reach 100 percent before inserting him back in the starting lineup. That’s a luxury most teams don’t have with starters too often returning before they’re actually healthy, putting them at greater risk of reinjury. You could argue Rush, in his short stint as signal-caller, has positioned himself for a big payday this offseason, either as a priority backup or a starter for a quarterback-needy team like Washington or Carolina.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images