IRVING, Texas – For the first time in 14 seasons, the Cowboys are prepared to start four quarterbacks in one season.
And just like in 2001, there's a good chance each of the four will have at least two starts.
That's assuming, of course, that Kellen Moore does enough in his NFL starting debut on Sunday in Buffalo to warrant the last start against Washington the following week.
But it certainly seems evident that the Cowboys are fully behind Moore, who saw the first regular-season action of his career on Saturday against the Jets, nearly pulling off the upset win.
And with that, and perhaps coupled with the fact that the Cowboys are officially eliminated from playoff contention, they are going with Moore.
"He just deserves an opportunity. He did some good things in the ballgame, provided a little bit of a spark for us, made some plays in the passing game, moved the ball," Garrett said of Moore, who threw a touchdown pass, but also had three interceptions, including one in the red zone. "He made some mistakes. Hopefully, he'll learn from those mistakes. But we think he gives us the best chance to help us move the ball, score some points and win a football game."
The decision to sit Matt Cassel didn't seem to be a difficult one for Garrett and the offensive coaches. Cassel had gone 1-6 as a starter, including Saturday's loss in which he was ineffective for most of the first quarter.
Garrett dismissed a press-conference question regarding Moore winning the job by default.
"I think you just try to make your best decision, evaluate the information you have from practice and more importantly from games, and you decide who you think gives you the best chance," Garrett said. "That's the decision we made. We felt good about some of the things he did in the game.
"Again, he has to learn from some of the other experiences he had, but he responded well. He bounced back well, handled the adversity well, made some plays for us at the end of the game and put us in a great position to tie that game late in the game. I thought he handled those situations really well and gives us a good chance this week to play our best football."
Playing their "best football" still seems to be Garrett's No. 1 priority, regardless of the playoffs being a lost cause. When asked if other younger players might get opportunities to play in the final two games for evaluations for the future, Garrett made it clear that would happen only if it gives the team a shot to win.
That alone suggests the time was right for Garrett to switch to Moore, despite his lack of experience.
Currently, Cassel has 79 NFL starts (35-44 record) to none for Moore. But Garrett pointed to Moore's collegiate success at Boise State as a reason for optimism.
"He's a good football player. He has not had experience in the NFL playing regular season games, but he's an experienced quarterback," Garrett said. "Fifty-three starts in college, he won 50 of them. He's had success playing in preseason games when he's had opportunities here in the NFL and typically has taken advantage of them.
"The reason is because he's an instinctive guy. He's got a good feel for playing the position. I think when you look at a number of plays in the game, we saw that. Again, he needs to play more. He's still a young player. He made some mistakes, but I thought he handled himself very well. He made some important plays for us in the game."