Eatman: After Offense Sputters Again, Time For Cowboys To Make QB Switch

Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published *If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys*, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.

ARLINGTON, Texas – He's not the only problem. But he's not the solution, either.

So when you've got a three-game losing streak on your hands with two weeks to think about it, it seems like the time to make some kind of move.

I like Brandon Weeden. I think he's been a solid backup quarterback here with Tony Romo out. But he's not getting the job done, and the Cowboys should go ahead and use the bye week to get Matt Cassel ready.

That's just my opinion, and I know for a fact it's shared by many fans who have Twitter accounts. Again, those two things alone won't guarantee a move by the Cowboys, but I would imagine here in the next two weeks – probably the next couple of days – the staff will make the decision on if they want to start prepping Cassel for the Oct. 25 game at the Giants.

Even Jason Garrett, who rarely gives us anything to chew on like that in his postgame press conference, gave an emphatic "yes" when asked if they would use the bye week to evaluate the starting quarterback position.

It's not often a one-word answer can say so much, but with Garrett, it screams loudly that the Cowboys are strongly considering making a move.

And after watching Sunday's 30-6 loss to the Patriots, with an extra week before the next game, it seems like the right time. Because the Cowboys offense was clearly the problem here Sunday at AT&T Stadium, and you guys don't need me to point it out. It was clear as day that the Cowboys were active on defense and flying around the ball. They were making Tom Brady uncomfortable back there, which is not easy to do to a four-time Super Bowl champion.

But with Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain in the lineup, the defense had some juice. They got five, yes FIVE, first-half sacks and held the Patriots to just 13 points in the first half. That should've been more than enough to keep the Cowboys in the game, but the offense just couldn't hang.

And again, let me point out that this isn't a 100 percent finger-point at Weeden. It's not all on him. But as the quarterback, he's got to be able to move this offense and other than a 91-yard drive late in the Saints game last week, Weeden isn't getting the job done, plain and simple.

Honestly, this really isn't anything new. As a backup quarterback, you're expected to come in and be efficient and try your best to keep things moving smoothly. But so far, in four years in the NFL, Weeden hasn't shown that.

You simply can't ignore his 5-19 overall record as a starter, including 0-4 with the Cowboys. At some point, the quarterback has to show you that he's going to go out and win a game. In this game vs. New England, Weeden didn't do that.

For three weeks, he has stood in front of his locker and answered every, and I mean every question that has been tossed his way. He's a very stand-up guy and in his own, professional, PC way, he tells it like it is. And every week Weeden says the same thing at the end of a lot of answers, "I've got to give our team a chance to win."

That didn't happen Sunday. The defense gave the Cowboys a chance to win. The offense didn't answer the call.

To me, this game felt a lot like the Denver game here back in 2013 when the Cowboys seemed to be out-manned against a future Hall of Fame quarterback. But the defense played better, which sounds odd considering they gave up 51 points, but they made plays on Manning. The real difference was the offense made that game into a shootout and the Cowboys probably should've won it.

But that was with Romo in charge. The Cowboys simply have no shot of having any kind of shootout with Weeden under center, and Dez Bryant not on the outside.

One of the issues I had with Weeden Sunday was how long he held on to the ball, and/or how long it took for him to see the read. Yeah, he checks the ball down a lot and that's not a bad thing sometimes. But too many times it seemed like he had Joseph Randle or Cole Beasley cutting underneath with a defender 3 yards behind him. But by the time Weeden finally looks down there to dump the ball off, the separation has decreased and it's not enough time for any kind of reasonable gain.

He also doesn't seem to trust his arm, or his eyes down the field. Weeden will have guys that appear open, but he won't thread the needle. He's got a strong arm, we all know that. But it doesn't do a lot of good if he's afraid to use it.

Again, it's not just Weeden. He's not getting a lot of help on the outside. Even Terrance Williams can't win one-on-one battles a lot of the time. Cole Beasley can only do so much underneath and the rest of the guys just seem to be running around for fun.

I wrote this last week about the offensive line – it's not a great unit right now. It's just a solid group of offensive linemen that happens to include three Pro Bowlers. But we're seeing the value of Romo each and every week that he's not in there. Romo just makes everyone better – the line, the receivers and the backs.

Saying all that, I know Cassel probably won't come in and make this offense appreciably better. But at least he's more established in the league and he's actually been the starting quarterback – a Pro Bowler one year – and should have a better command of what he's seeing.

At this point, the Cowboys have lost three straight games and you have to switch something up. If they did go with Cassel, it might not be the only move that is made. Starting left guard Ron Leary hasn't looked that great in his last two starts and considering La'el Collins is expected to be a fixture on the line one day, maybe the time is now to go to the rookie.

But that would of course only be a side note to the real decision the Cowboys are facing here this week.

Maybe it would be considered a desperate move. But a team that started off 2-0 is now 2-3 heading into a bye week, followed by games against the Giants, Seahawks and Eagles and without the starting quarterback and quite possibly the NFL's best receiver as well – that sounds like a desperate situation to me.

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