There is no question quarterback Kellen Moore’s relationship with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan from their days together in Detroit helped get him on the Dallas Cowboys.
But Linehan said it won’t affect the decision the Cowboys have to make regarding the battle for the No. 2 quarterback job between Moore and rising rookie free agent Cooper Rush behind starter Dak Prescott.
“I have a relationship with Dak Prescott, too...So I have a relationship with all the quarterbacks, so, no, it’s not difficult at all,” Linehan said. “I separate them all. You’ve got to be very objective in your approach.”
Linehan and Moore were together for two years with the Lions when the former Boise State star impressed him as a member of the practice squad. Linehan came to the Cowboys in 2014 and Moore signed with the team in 2015, largely because of that relationship and his knowledge of the system.
Moore played in his only three career games for the Cowboys in 2015, starting two, including throwing for 435 in the season final loss against the Washington Redskins.
But it was mainly due to Linehan’s faith and trust in Moore that the Cowboys pegged him as the No. 2 quarterback behind Tony Romo heading into the 2016 season. But that was before he broke his leg one week into training camp. Prescott then replaced a soon-to-be injured Romo and fashioned the finest rookie season in the NFL history.
Romo retired and Moore went into offseason and the 2017 training camp seemingly unchallenged in his bid to become the primary backup again.
But Rush, an undrafted free agent from Central Michigan, has simply outplayed Moore in training camp and through three preseason games, so much so that the team has made the backup job an open competition.
After taking mainly third-team reps for the last month of training camp, Rush has been splitting reps with Moore with the second unit this week. Linehan said that process will continue until they make a final decision.
“I think he has earned more reps how he has played,” Linehan said. “I think we feel like he is really coming along. We have two more preseason games. We are going to continue to play the guys as much equally as we can. And all our decisions some at the end of camp.”
Rush has completed 26 of 38 passes (68.4 percent) for 283 yards with four touchdowns and no intercptions and a quarterback rating of 125.2.
Moore has completed 30 of 55 passes (54.4 percent) for 382 yards with one touchdown and one interception and a quarterback rating of 74.9.
While Moore has played unevenly, Linehan says the change in focus for the No. 2 job has more what Rush has done than what Moore hasn’t done.
“I just think he’s got that moxie, kind of that quiet confidence,” Linehan said of Rush. “He doesn’t say a lot for a guy that plays the position. A lot of guys that play with confidence and know how to play and they show that with how they command the room with those guys in the huddle and on the ball. So really think that’s a really good trait to have. He’s been playing quarterback his whole life, through high school, though college and now he’s a rookie in the NFL so you can tell he has a really good grasp of how to play the position. It’s really good to see Coop come along here. A young quarterback that has shown a lot of potential. So that is a real positive for us.”
Linehan also said he won’t let Rush’s lack of experience affect the decision, either. And for anyone who thinks they won’t got into the season with an undrafted rookie as the primary backup to Prescott, all they have to do is look back to last year.
“We went into the season with a rookie quarterback last year and I don’t know that that was part of the plan to begin with,” Linehan said. “We haven’t really assessed that. We’ve still got two more games. We have a five-game preseason schedule so these next two games will factor in that. As long as guys are ready, the age of them isn’t as big a concern as you’d think.”