Injuries Made This Central Michigan Quarterback’s Undefeated NFL Record Possible
You might say the best thing to happen to Cooper Rush has been injuries to other teammates. He might disagree, though, since he's a good guy.
Nonetheless, injuries have allowed the former Chippewa Quarterback to step into the spotlight from time to time, and now, he stands as the only current quarterback who has a perfect winning record as a starter in the NFL.
Let me preface this by saying, it isn't JUST because of other's injuries that Cooper Rush is currently crushing it in the NFL. Dude's got incredible work ethic, and exceptional talent. He just happened to be the right guy, in the right place, at the right time... a lot.
Early Success at CMU
Rush is originally from Charlotte, Michigan. During his redshirt season at Central Michigan University, he was named Scout Team Player of the Year, but only landed the third-string role when it came to his 2013 Freshman Season.
That didn't last long, though. Starter Cody Kater broke his collarbone in Game 2 of the season, and backup Alex Niznak had issues moving the offense against New Hampshire.
Enter Rush, and by the next game, he was named starter for the Chippewas for the remainder of his stay in Mount Pleasant. He would also take part in one of the most amazing Hail Mary Bowl Game plays in Central Michigan history.
Undrafted Free Agent
Out of college, Rush was initially expected to be a seventh-round pick, but a lackluster NFL Combine performance didn't make that possible, and the Cowboys signed him in 2017 as an undrafted free agent.
Initially, he was battling Zac Dysert for the third-string position on the team. But, as fate may have it for Rush, an injury to Dysert bumped him up to the role. Rush shared second-team reps with Kellen Moore, who was Dak Prescott's backup at that time. Rush was ultimately named third-string.
It was during this time, he got to know Moore quite well, who would eventually become the Offensive Coordinator for the Cowboys.
Rush was waived by the Cowboys in 2020, but his former head coach, Jason Garrett, remembered his work ethic, and brought him in with his new team in New York as a Giant. That lasted only a few weeks into the season, though.
Again, injury allowed Rush another chance, as Prescott went down with a season-ending ankle injury in Dallas, and Rush was tapped to fill in behind backups Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci. Eventually, though, he would beat them out, and secure the No. 2 role in 2021.
The Record Begins.
Four Years and multiple injuries to his teammates led to Week 8 of the 2021 season. Prescott was out with a calf injury, and Rush was named starter for the first time in his NFL career. That night, he passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings, including a last-minute drive to the endzone, securing a 20-16 win.
Rush was 1-0.
Dak would return the next game, and Rush would step back into the No. 2 role, until two weeks ago this season. During the Season opener against the Buccaneers, late in the game, the injury bug hit Dak again, this time, fracturing his thumb. Once the extent of the injury was known, Rush was immediately named starter until Dak was healthy.
In week 2, Rush got his second start in the NFL against the Bengals, who were favored to win. One touchdown, and 235 yards later, Rush was walking off the field with his second win as a starter in the NFL, winning 20-17 following another last-minute drive to a game-winning field goal.
Rush was 2-0.
And finally, in primetime, in New York, against an undefeated division rival Giants team, Rush, again, proved to be the underdog that can't quit.
Rush had formed a strong understanding, and communication with OC Kellen Moore when they were both backups in 2017. This meant Cooper could practically predict the plays Moore would make, and the two seemed in sync all game long.
A tight game, held only to field goals in the first half, Rush finally found Ezekiel Elliot in the 3rd quarter, and CeeDee Lamb in the 4th quarter to put the game away, securing yet another victory for the perennial backup turned frontman.
Rush is now 3-0.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy has said once Dak Prescott is healthy, he will be the starter of the team again, but that would be weeks from now, as he just got stitches out of his thumb, and still has some rehab to go through.
But until that time, enjoy the ride Cooper Rush, as all of Central Michigan is right there, riding the wave with you.
Just... please... for the sake of this Cowboys fan's heart... no more injuries around you... OK?
In the meantime, let's relive one of those amazing moments with Cooper Rush at the helm as a Chippewa against Oklahoma State...