Any team who loses its starting quarterback is expected to slide.
But the Dallas Cowboys never envisioned losing seven straight games without Tony Romo. Even if they didn’t say it publicly, the hope had been that the team could at least stay afloat during the stretch.
Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, though, showed why they’ve been relegated to backup roles in recent years. Weeden entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick with high upside, but flamed out.
Cassel had his moments throughout his career, including a Pro Bowl season with Kansas City in 2010, but that’s five years ago. There’s a reason Buffalo was willing to part with him for a late-round draft pick.
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Weeden and Cassel combined to go 0-7 in place of Romo, and each ended their stints with more interceptions than touchdowns.
It begs the question – did the Cowboys misevaluate the backup quarterback position?
“Well certainly you have to be able to absorb injuries throughout your team,” coach Jason Garrett said on Monday. “Injuries over the course of a 16-game season in the NFL are inevitable and the value of the backup quarterback is critical. He has such an impact on the team. We came into the season with Brandon Weeden being our backup quarterback and we gave him an opportunity those first three games to play.
“Because Tony was out we brought Matt Cassel in and we just felt like after those three games [with Weeden] we thought Matt gave us a better chance. Some of those shortcomings Matt has had a lot to do with him not being around here, and not being comfortable with our system, playing with the guys and I think some of those things have shown up over the last four ballgames. You always want to be able to absorb injuries throughout your football team. If something happens to this guy, put the next guy in and let’s go. The best teams are able to do that.
“When we have played our best football in the past we’ve been able to do that, at the quarterback position and at other positions. So we haven’t been able to do that as well as we needed to in this stretch obviously.”
Executive vice president Stephen Jones had similar thoughts during a radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan. Jones admitted that the team would re-evaluate their process in finding backup quarterbacks, alluding to the possibility of drafting a developmental player.
“That’s obviously something we’re going to have to address and see how we’ll do that,” Jones said. “Whether it’s going with youth or whether it’s getting a more established guy and going ahead and biting the bullet and paying more money for a backup quarterback -- those are all things that we’ll look at.”
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Romo is healthy and ready to return this Sunday at Miami. That should give an offense that has stalled a boost.
With Romo returning, it very well could mark the end of Weeden’s tenure with the team. The Cowboys may not want to burn a roster spot on a third quarterback, and Cassel is higher on the pecking order than Weeden.
Asked if the team could keep three QBs, Garrett said: “Over the next day or so, we’ll have a lot of those discussions about what we feel. Some of that’s based on the injuries that happened in the game yesterday and what the availability of those guys will be as we practice and get into this game.
“That’s certainly an objective of ours, but you have to look at the entire landscape of the roster.”