IRVING, Texas – With at least four more games until Tony Romo is eligible to return, the Cowboys are turning the reins over to a quarterback who has been in the NFL for 11 years and is about to start for his fifth different team.
It's a good thing his quarterbacks coach has an idea what he's going through.
Longtime Cowboys QB coach Wade Wilson knows a thing or two about changing addresses. For 17 seasons, Wilson was both a starter (36-33 in 69 career starts) and backup for various teams, playing for five different squads, including a three-year stint with the Cowboys from 1995-97.
Wilson said Cassel has done a great job of picking up the system, despite joining the team on Sept. 23.
"He knows the offense. Just want to get the subtleties of the offense and the nuances of the offense," Wilson said of Cassel. "Having the bye week, the extra two days of practices certainly helps getting him in rhythm with the outside receivers. I think the bye week was a good time to do it."
Like he did many times himself, Wilson can see the benefits of a quarterback who has plenty of history learning new offenses.
"You can tell he's a veteran pro. He has great command out there," Wilson said. "The guys respond to him. He's a sharp guy and has picked things up very quickly."
Just like he can relate to Cassel, Wilson can also sympathize with Brandon Weeden, who was notified on Tuesday he would return to his No. 2 role as the backup.
"It's a bottom-line business. We haven't been scoring a lot of points," Wilson said. "That's a reflection on everyone on the offense. It's not just Brandon. Certainly Brandon has played fairly well considering he hasn't played that much. I think the offense needed something and getting a new quarterback in there maybe gives us a little spark that could ignite us."
Wilson said he expects Cassel's experience over Weeden could be the biggest reason for an offensive upgrade.
"The fact that he's played so much. He has a lot more starts in this league than Brandon," Wilson said. "He's played a lot more football. He's been in situations where he has had to come in in the middle of the season. These are experiences he can draw on."
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.