Mac Engel

Dallas Cowboys can’t be afraid of using Brandon Weeden

Brandon Weeden’s role as the Cowboys starting quarterback is going to last two more games if he’s not careful — i.e., better — which relies partly on his head coach not being so afraid.

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t trade a fifth-rounder to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Matt Cassel as window dressing. If the Cowboys don’t win either of the next two games, and Weeden is a problem, he is going to wind up on the bench.

But starting Matt Cassel won’t fix the problem — they’re the same guy. Most backups are the same guy.

The Cowboys don’t trust Weeden, and they won’t trust any other guy not named Romo.

Weeden is going to get two more games and that’s it, which really means he has Sunday night in New Orleans to make the necessary favorable impression.

If our heroes lose Sunday, at least they will be in an ideal spot to drown their sorrows — Pat O’Brien’s will still be open after the game as they prepare for their three-game losing streak.

The New England Cheaters come to Arlington the following Sunday. Forget the backup quarterback having a chance in that game. There are maybe one or two starting quarterbacks alive that can beat my first wife’s (Gisele Bundchen) favorite team.

If/when the Cowboys start their Romo-less stretch 0-3, Coach Process will call his righty out the ’pen. The Cowboys have a bye after their loss against the Patriots, which would allow Cassel additional time to prepare as the No. 1.

The Cowboys, from Garrett to Weeden himself, are trotting out the previously agreed line that the game plan/play-calling against the Falcons was the same as it was last season in the win at Seattle. They won that game, so what’s the problem? That sure sounds good; the Falcons’ head coach, Dan Quinn, was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator last year.

There is one, just one, difference between the Seahawks-defeating game plan in ’14 and the Falcons-losing plan in ’15: the guy playing quarterback for the local team.

According to the wildly popular Pro Football Focus, “21 of Weeden’s 26 passes (against the Falcons) did not travel farther than 9 yards down field.”

That’s a quarterback who is scared to death of his own throws, or an equally terrified head coach. That will not magically change if Cassel is the starter.

Pretty sure against the Seahawks in Seattle last year Romo threw it a few more times down the field than that pathetic figure.

Coach Process and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are spooked of what Weeden might do, so the better choice is nothing.

On Wednesday, Weeden insisted the play-calling isn’t the issue and that media/fans are beating a dead horse with the criticism that he threw the ball underneath too frequently.

“Never in my life have I been asked if I checked the ball down too much,” Weeden said in the Cowboys’ locker room. “That’s not my game.”

It’s not his game but, with Brandon Weeden as the quarterback, it’s the Cowboys’ game.

The team ran deep routes, but it was evident in his play he was told, “Brandon, unless the defensive back falls down and/or is dead, you are not to throw the football deep, including on Hail Mary plays.”

The Cowboys are going out of their way to make Weeden’s job idiot proof. He has to be allowed, on some plays, to be a grownup and to play. That means take the training wheels off.

The safe way against the Falcons did lead to 28 points, and the Cowboys still lost at home.

This is about making the best of a bad situation; we are talking about a guy that is 5-17 as a starting NFL quarterback. Since 2011, Cassel is 9-17 as a starter.

It would really help if Weeden’s wide receivers, I don’t know, maybe get some separation and some of his “deep” threats actually get open. Looking at you, Terrance Williams.

“There are a lot of matchups we can take advantage of,” Weeden said, “and take shots when they are there.”

How novel.

What Weeden saw against the Falcons, he will see again and again until he proves it doesn’t work. The Falcons had no fear of Brandon Weeden, so they crowded the line and then went after him knowing full well the reward was worth the risk.

The only way this is going to improve is he completes just a few throws down the field, and the open space will come.

It’s not complicated. It’s also not easy. If it was easy, there would be more than just eight to 10 men on this earth who can play this position at the highest level.

Brandon Weeden has two games to show that he can be better than the Brandon Weeden his coaches fear, or it will be Matt Cassel’s turn to prevent this Romo-less stretch from destroying the season.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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