We can all let it go now. The Dallas Cowboys 2015 season is done for. The team has only free agency and the draft to look forward to. But there are still two games left to play. While the team still can play for pride, that does not mean that it has to continue risking injury to the most valuable players. It may be time to sit or limit some of the known quantities and see what some of the down-roster types have to offer.
The Cowboys' next game is against the Buffalo Bills, who are now out of the playoff race themselves. After that, they will host Washington in the season finale, and there is a chance that they may have the NFC East locked up by then. It is hard to say what approach those coaching staffs will take in the final games, but it may be that everyone will be taking a similar approach to protect some of their roster.
Of course, Dallas can only control their own approach. Jason Garrett is a firm believer in playing to win every game, but so far, that has not led to success. No one cares about the opinions here, but there are some names that it would be good to see the Cowboys take an extended look at in those final contests.
Kellen Moore. The desire to see just how much he has to offer is nearly universal in the fan base. Garrett has demurred from naming him the starter for the next game, but it is hard to see what benefit the team would get from more playing time for Matt Cassel. Although he had his struggles in the loss to the New York Jets, Moore did look much better than Cassel at reading the field while maintaining his composure in the pocket. He also seemed to do a much better job at finding all his receivers. It would be illuminating to see how he does against a defense that has prepared for him to find out if he can maintain those traits. If so, he could well be a good solution to the backup quarterback question. Anyone who paid even the slightest attention to this debacle of a season knows that Dallas has to come up with something better than the parade of ineptitude it was saddled with in 2015. With the injury history of Tony Romo, the need for a reliable backup the next two to three years is only going to grow. One thing that was noticeable in the cases of both Cassel and Brandon Weeden was that they seemed to regress in some ways. Weeden's was more of a straight line, but Cassel was more up and down. If Moore can show some progression over two more games against the opponents, he might just get a new deal that provides security for both him and the Cowboys.
Chaz Green. It is fairly clear that Doug Free is the weakest link on the offensive line now. Both his age and injury history are working against him. Dallas spent a third-round pick on the semi-mythical Green. Given some of the other needs they could have addressed, they need to find out if that was wasted or not. (The performance of David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals against the Philadelphia Eagles is one example of where that pick might have been better spent.) I said that there was no real benefit in seeing Cassel play, but a cold-hearted approach may be to put Cassel in at the same time the team lets Green spell Free. If you are going to risk getting your quarterback beaten up, then go with the less valuable one.
Robert Turbin. Although I don't know offhand what incentives may be involved for Darren McFadden, he has shown what he can do. He is actually having one of the better years of his career, with five 100 yard games already. It would be good to give Turbin some extended looks to see what he can do getting into the flow of the game, even if it costs McFadden a chance at a 1,000 yard season. Dallas is certainly going to be looking at running backs in both free agency and the draft, but it would not hurt to have some known quantities on the roster going into training camp. Even if Turbin should flop, that is just as useful to learn as him showing something.
Damien Wilson. If there is one player on the Cowboys that a case can be made for sitting to protect his health, it is Sean Lee. He is so important to the team when he is on the field, it makes little sense to risk him in meaningless games. And he is not a player who would be likely to dial it back to protect himself. That is often an ineffective strategy, anyway. As a fourth-round pick, Wilson also represents a fairly significant investment of draft capital. Get him on the field. He could be paired with Anthony Hitchens, and could be used at either the Mike or Will spots, depending on what the coaches see in him. It is a good opportunity to find out what he can really offer while keeping Lee safe for next season.
Brice Butler. If Lee is number one on the list of players to protect, Dez Bryant is a hair-close second. He is still recovering from his broken foot in the first game of the season, and that is a good reason to put him in bubble-wrap and let Butler and Devin Street get extended playing time. Butler has flashed at moments, and may be a better option to fill in if Bryant is nicked up than any of the other receivers. Why not find out now?
Those are five names, but there are others who have a place in this conversation. Who do you think should get a look in the last two games? At this point, there aren't really any wrong answers.