Even though Tony Romo hasn't looked this healthy in years, in the NFL you can never stop worrying about your backup quarterback. In this league, you're one hit away from having to place your season in the hands of your number two guy. In Dallas, that guy right now is Brandon Weeden, although Dustin Vaughan is trying his best to change that.
Weeden was famously a bust for the Cleveland Browns after they selected him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. After two season the Browns had seen enough and Weeden landed in Dallas as the backup last year. During his short NFL career, he's never had an offseason where he's played in the same offensive scheme with the same coordinator until this one. We often talk about how continuity is important for the offensive line, that's mainly about teammates playing along the same line together. Continuity for quarterbacks can be equally important, but for them it's about the scheme, the verbiage, and the play-caller.
Todd Archer takes a look at that for Weeden, and it's an important but under-discussed subject. The Cowboys could have to turn to Weeden if something, God forbid, happens to Tony Romo.
Last year, we got a short glimpse of that scenario, and after an initial burst of optimism, it all came down in a thudding crash. Weeden had to enter the Washington game last year after Romo was pulled after injuring the transverse process in his back. Weeden promptly went 4 for 6 with a touchdown, and looked extremely competent. When Romo had to sit out the following week against Arizona, there was hope that Weeden would be just fine. He wasn't.
With Romo out with two transverse process fractures, Weeden complete[d] 18 of 33 passes for 183 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Weeden has looked at all of the games he played in 2014 but none more than the Arizona loss.
"I didn’t play as well as I would’ve liked against Arizona, but I tell everybody that’s the best defense I ever played against. Since I’ve been in the league, that’s the best defense I played against. Their scheme was good. They’ve got really good corners on the outside, and they have just really good players. I’d like to have that one over ... I just didn’t play well enough to give us a chance to win."
After that game, Weeden was viewed skeptically by the Cowboys faithful. And apparently by the Cowboys organization as they brought in several veteran quarterbacks for a workout this offseason. In the end, they decided to stick with Weeden.
This offseason, he finally gets to practice in the same scheme with the same coordinator. For Weeden, this is a huge advantage. Instead of trying to learn everything, this time around he is fine-tuning, getting repetition and feeling more natural at his position. So much so that Wade Wilson had this to say:
"I think he's probably the most improved player," quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. "He just has a great understanding of the concepts, of the protections, calling the plays, all those things. He's made a big jump this year."
While all Cowboys fans will be pleased to hear that, it's probably not enough to assuage the fears of having to rely on Weeden for any length of time. Hopefully, we'll never have to find out.
What's your confidence level in Brandon Weeden?