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In desperation, Cowboys turn to QB Cassel

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IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys (2-3) are mired in a three-game losing streak and are desperate to win.

They have not won since quarterback Tony Romo went down with a fractured collarbone.

The demise has been a team effort but the Cowboys can’t change 11 players.

They can only change one.

So they used the bye week to make a change at quarterback, benching Brandon Weeden for Matt Cassel, who will start next week against the New York Giants.

“There are a lot of different reasons you make a decision like this,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You evaluate the quarterback position, what we’re asking the quarterback to do and how we execute those things that we’re asking him to do on a daily basis and a weekly basis.

“Also at this position you look at how the offense is performing, and this position has an impact on the entire offensive unit maybe more than any other position, and certainly has an impact on how the team is performing. Sometimes that’s fair. Sometimes that’s unfair, but that’s the nature of this position.”

The Cowboys had simply lost confidence in Weeden, who was not only 0-3 as Romo’s replacement this season but has lost 11 straight games as a starter dating to his rookie year with the Cleveland Browns in 2012.

Weeden is coming off his worst game against New England on last Sunday. He completed 26-of-39 passes for 188 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and a 67.0 passer rating.

The Cowboys averaged only 18 points a game with Weeden and scored 26 the last two combined.

There is no question the Cowboys were making the change in order to find away to jump start the offense and get the team winning again.

Cassel gives the Cowboys a more proven veteran under center, one that has had success in the NFL.

Cassel has a 33-38 record as a starter with 96 touchdown passes and 70 interceptions with the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings.

He has been the starting quarterback of 10-win teams with New England (2008) and Kansas City (2010).

“Matt’s a good football player, and he’s been a good football player in this league for a number of years,” Garrett said. “He’s been a backup before, so he’s coming into this situation. He’s also been a starter, and he’s started games in this league and won games in this league. He has the skill set that allows him to do everything we ask him to do.

“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he can throw the ball really short, medium and deep. He’s accurate. He’s athletic. There’s a lot of different things he brings to the table. We just want to give him an opportunity to run this offense and lead our football team.”

The Cowboys believe the bye week was a good time to make the move, giving Cassel work with the starters in practice this week as well as next before the Giants game.

Cassel played primarily with the scout team since being acquired in a trade with Buffalo on Sept. 22, but believes he has a good enough grasp of the offense to be successful.

“I think it’s a huge help for me to have one more week underneath your belt, then to have the whole next week of practice is important because obviously I’m still growing in everything that we’re doing,” Cassel said.

“Today was the first time I took snaps with the first team, the first time I threw the ball to (Cole) Beasley and (Jason) Witten and those guys since I’ve been here. Building that rapport, building that chemistry is important that I take advantage of the next few weeks.”

The bottom line remains the same. The Cowboys made the move in hopes of breaking the three-game losing streak and winning games before Romo returns Nov. 22.

Cassel is ready to deliver.

“I’m very confident,” Cassel said. “You know what, we’ve got a lot of great players in this room, in this building and so if I go out and do my job at a high level, then I think that everybody will be impacted for the better.”

–QB Brandon Weeden is not happy about his demotion in favor Matt Cassel.

“How do you think I took it? Obviously I’m pissed,” Weeden said. “But, you know, nature of this business.”

Weeden declined to go into specifics about his meeting with coach Jason Garrett, but said the coaching staff is well aware of his feelings about the decision.

Weeden also wouldn’t comment on whether he is a victim of the Cowboys making a change for change’s sake, or if he felt like a scapegoat for the team’s three-game losing skid.

“You guys can dictate however you want to perceive it,” Weeden said. “I’m not going to comment on it. I don’t want to bring the attention to me. I don’t want to say something I shouldn’t say. I’ve got my feelings, I’m going to keep them to myself and go from there.

“I’m going to handle it the right way, I’m going to go about it the right way. I’m not going to make excuses, I’m not going to throw a pity party for myself. I’m a pro. I’m going to handle it the right way, and go back to business as usual.”


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