NFL Wire News

Cassel on deck as Cowboys interim QB

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The Sports Xchange

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys lost three consecutive games since quarterback Tony Romo went down with a fractured collarbone.

They are now desperate in their plan to keep their season and playoff hopes alive until Romo returns Nov. 22 for the final seven games of the season.

The first step in the process during the bye week is to consider making a change quarterback from Brandon Weeden to Matt Cassel.

“When you talk about evaluating the quarterback, you look at [everything],” coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “You look at what we’re asking him to do and how he handles that, and then how he executes those plays on a consistent basis, week in and week out, and you look at the overall production of the quarterback.

“The quarterback is one of those positions where you don’t isolate him. His impact on the offense is important. His impact on the football team is important. You put all of those factors together, and you try to make your best judgment.”

Weeden, 31, had his worst performance yet in Sunday’s 30-6 loss to the New England Patriots. Weeden completed 26 of 39 passes for 188 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and a 67.0 passer rating in losing his 11th consecutive game as a starter.

“I think every quarterback needs confidence, and every player needs confidence,” Garrett said. “One of the things that we try to do as a staff is to try to instill that confidence in them through preparation, practicing the right way, getting them ready to play, and then certainly trying to create a mentality and a mindset in the player and certainly in our whole football team. That applies to everybody. Nobody needs more confidence than a quarterback. They have a lot of responsibility each week.

“I think Brandon is a confident player. I think he has an understanding of what we’re asking him to do. At times, he has done a very good job here over the last few weeks with his opportunity to play.”

Cassel, acquired in a trade with Bills on Sept. 22, is more experienced and has been more successful than Weeden.

Cassel has a career record of 33-38 as a starting quarterback after losing his last two starts, which came last season in Minnesota .

Cassel has completed 59 percent of his passes for 15,727 yards with 96 touchdowns, 70 interceptions and an 80.1 passer rating.

“He’s certainly comfortable enough [to play],” Garrett said. “We wouldn’t have put him in that situation [Sunday] to be the backup quarterback with a possibility of going into the game if something were to happen to Brandon.

“He’s worked hard. He’s a veteran player. He’s a smart guy. He’s been here for a little bit. There are always levels of knowing something. The more you’re around something, the more experienced you are with the people doing it together, the better you’re going to be at it. But he’s certainly comfortable with our system.”

The Cowboys have sputtered on offense in Romo’s absence. They scored only 18 points a game and are merely 8-for-32 on third down.

REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS

–PASS OFFENSE: F. Brandon Weeden had his worst game in place of Tony Romo as the starter and could get benched for the Giants game after the bye. Weeden missed open receivers all over the field. He threw late. He threw high. He checked down too much. He was failed by three dropped passes and receivers unable to get open. It was ugly.

–RUSH OFFENSE: C. The Cowboys rushed 24 times for 100 yards but it was fool’s gold. Weeden had three carries for 18 yards. Joseph Randle had 60 yards on 15 carries but he doesn’t run with consistency or well enough to impact the game. McFadden had five carries for 16 yards. Nothing to write home about.

–PASS DEFENSE: C. The Cowboys certainly did a good job early with their 3-2-6 defense that confused Patriots. Tom Brady had been sacked six times in the first three games and was sacked five times in the first half. Of course, Brady adjusted and made plays in the second half. He ended up 20 of 27 for 275 yards with two touchdowns. But it wasn’t as smoothly as the numbers indicate. Defensive end Greg Hardy and the Cowboys defense made Brady sweat.

–RUN DEFENSE: D. The Cowboys got run over late by the Patriots. LeGarrette Blount had 13 carries for 74 yards and Dion Lewis had six carries for 34 yards. Both averaged 5.7 yards per carry. The Cowboys continue to miss too many tackles. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain led the Cowboys with eight tackles in his first game of the season as missing the first four under NFL suspension.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C. Chris Jones did a nice job angling his punts. He averaged 41 yards on six punts. But the coverage was lacking. Danny Amendola averaged 13 yards a return and had a long of 25. Lucky Whitehead had no impact on kickoff or punt returns and Cole Beasley remains a punt catcher.

–COACHING: D. Credit Rod Marinelli for going outside the box and coming up with the 3-2-6 defensive scheme that caught the Patriots off guard and had Tom Brady flummoxed for a bit. In the end it wasn’t good enough on either side of the ball. Coach Jason Garrett has lost three straight games for the first time since he took over the job midway through the 2010 season.


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