Matt Cassel

The Dallas Cowboys are heading into week 7, facing the New York Giants coming off a bye week, trying to shake off three consecutive losses. What’s changed? Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Brandon Weeden, and crossing fingers that Dez Bryant gets back on the field.

To say Weeden did poorly in filling in for Tony Romo would be an understatement. Weeden did what he can and what he knows. Short passes, and that’s about it. Considering he’s playing without Bryant as well and not having too much of an arm to spread the field, the Cowboys struggled offensively, especially in their 30-6 home loss to the New England Patriots. Not having any vertical threat meant more pressure on the running game, producing disappointing numbers.

Cassel came through a trade from the Buffalo Bills, and more than anything, the Cowboys want to see him start to take risks. Weeden completed 72.4% of his passes, but he was playing it safe, and keeping things simple. It’s all good and well when teams know you also have another option. But since Romo went down at the end of week 2, the Cowboys don’t have anyone to get the ball to Terrance Williams and other on deep routes. Defenses don’t have to respect a long ball option.

Now Cassel isn’t your ideal quarterback, but he is willing to air the ball out. The Cowboys tried the safe approach for three games, and it didn’t work. The New York Giants are red hot, winning three in a row and might not be the best team to experiment against (the Cowboys beat them in week 1 on the final play), but it’s not like Dallas have a choice. Waiting for Romo while losing isn’t the best way to get into the playoffs.

Seeing how the season is developing, the full-force Cowboys should be legitimate contenders in the NFC for the Super Bowl spot, especially now that their pass rush is vastly improved thanks to Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain getting back on the field. Playing it slowly and conservatively doesn’t give them a chance to keep up with the escaping playoff spots. Taking risks might explode in their face, but it probably puts them in a better position to compete with competent offenses.

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