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Brandon Weeden Or Matt Cassel: The Debate Of The Cowboys Bye Week

It can no longer be avoided. Do the Cowboys have to make a change to try and keep their playoff hopes alive?

Is it time for the Cowboys to sack Weeden?
Is it time for the Cowboys to sack Weeden?
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Garrett is not a coach given to rash or impulsive decisions. If anything, he tends to err in the opposite direction, sticking by players when they have problems. But after a third consecutive loss, the Dallas Cowboys are getting close to critical mass if they want to get back to the playoffs this year. Defensively, the team saw a dramatic improvement with the addition of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain, and the pairing of McClain and Sean Lee was just as encouraging as we all had hoped.

But the offense was, to put it bluntly, inept. There are multiple issues, including the running backs, the offensive line, and the depleted wide receiving corps. In the NFL, however, the quarterback is seen, rightly or wrongly, as the most important cog in moving the ball, especially when the running game is not taking up the load. When a team needs a dramatic change in their offense, as the Cowboys clearly do, making a change at quarterback is the move that gets the most focus. This is especially true when the current starter is really a backup with a weak track record. That is a perfect description of Brandon Weeden. Right now, much of the fan base and the media is hoping for this conversation to take place at Valley Ranch.

Jason Garrett: Brandon, you need to start preparing to hold a clipboard against the Giants.

Weeden: But we don't use clipboards any more, we use tablets.

Garrett: I know.

Hopes are now being pinned on Matt Cassel, who is also a backup, but who has a much better resume. Ironically, his greatest success came while filling in for Tom Brady with the New England Patriots, the team that may have driven the nails home in Weeden's coffin. He benefited then from a much stronger supporting cast as well as the evil genius that is Bill Belichick,. All that doesn't matter now. Garrett came out and said that the team was going evaluate the quarterback position before the Giants game, and for him, that says a lot.

There are certainly many arguments to be made that it really is not all on Weeden, but the inescapable fact is that the team was not able to move the ball effectively against the Patriots. Rabblerousr's weekly look at the numbers documents the failings. My own breakdown of the "hidden yardage" problems also puts a great deal of the blame on the offense and, by implication, Weeden. Some observers thought that the team looked dispirited with Weeden at the helm. That last one is a very subjective call, but it cannot be denied that the team needs to do something to shake off the offensive doldrums. There may be other things to change, but giving the start after the the bye to Cassel is certainly the biggest one.

The big risk, of course, is that Cassel will turn out to be no better than Weeden. But there are some things about his game that make it look like a risk worth taking, such as this.

Besides, if Cassel doesn't get it done, the team still has Weeden to go back to, although the effectiveness of that would certainly be questionable.

This is not just about numbers and performance in practice, however. It is about the psychology of the move. It would absolutely shake things up. It would signal that the coaching staff is going to do everything it can to try and get things back on track. Hopefully, that would inspire a similar level of effort from the players. The intangible of leadership comes heavily into play as well. Right now, there is ample reason to doubt that Weeden is providing the right kind of presence on the field. If Cassel can bring more of that to the field, it alone may be enough to make the needed difference.

Hopefully the defense can bring a similar performance to the next game and put a lot of pressure on Eli Manning. If they can, the offense has to handle its end of the bargain, moving the ball and getting some points on the board. Weeden has had three games as the starter, and the team has three losses to show for it. That has to change.

A change at quarterback may be the necessary first step.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB


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