On Sunday afternoon the Cowboys will take a big step towards capturing the 2015 NFC East Crown. The first foot in line will be that of the newest starting quarterback for America’s Team… Matt Cassel.
A 2007 5th round draft pick was the asking price when the Cowboys called the Buffalo Bills in search of Cassel’s services back in September. The deal was done and Cassel was thought to be insurance just in case Weeden got hurt or wasn’t cutting the cheese.
In just three starts Brandon Weeden proved that he is incapable of the type of cheese-cutting that the Cowboys are looking for. Insert Cassel.
So what can Cowboys Nation expect from the former Southern Cal Trojan? What should we brace for when Matt fulfills his childhood dream this Sunday?
Cassel has been a bit of a journeyman so far throughout his NFL career. He’s had significant stops in New England and Kansas City, but fiddled around in Minnesota for a while and took that quick tour through Buffalo before landing in Big D. He made starts for the first three, and we’re going to examine those three performances.
Matt Cassel’s First Starts With New Teams
|New England Patriots (9/14/2008)||23||16||165||0||0||Win|
|Kansas City Chiefs (9/20/2009)||39||24||241||1||2||Loss|
|Minnesota Vikings (9/29/2013)||25||16||248||2||0||Win|
Cassel is not unfamiliar with taking over for a franchise quarterback. His first starting experience came with the Patriots after they lost Tom Brady for the season during Week 1. Sound familiar-ish?
Cassel had a week of preparation and managed the game well for the Pats against the New York Jets. In fact Cassel’s first start came IN New York, where he’ll start for the Cowboys for the first time this Sunday.
After that 2008 season Matt signed with the Chiefs. He had an entire offseason to prepare as the starter and had a poor game against the reigning World Champion Steelers. Dick LeBeau is no joke and that’s probably a reason why Cassel threw two picks that day, but look at how many times he threw the ball… 39.
While, yes, Cassel is more capable of getting the ball downfield than another Cowboys QB, he doesn’t play as well when he throws the ball a ton. In fact over his career, Matt Cassel is 16-24 when throwing more than 30 times in a game.
Cowboys fans have pointed to Cassel’s 2010 as a sign of hope that he’ll be what we need while we’re without Romo. Matt played 15 games in 2010, going 10-5. This is undoubtedly Cassel’s finest season in the NFL to date, he was even named to the 2010 Pro Bowl, and in those 15 games he only surpassed 30 attempts six times. He went 3-3 in those six games.
It’s essential that Cassel and the Cowboys try to air it downfield on Sunday. They need to soften the defense up so that the run game can work. The dink-and-dunk play style that we’ve seen for the last month is not going to get it done; however, a quarterback like Cassel is going to need a solid run game so that he doesn’t have to throw it that much (i.e. more than 30 times).
Cross your fingers, do your good luck dance, and hope that Cassel hovers right underneath 30 pass attempts as that seems to be his money range. I’m guessing a solid 27 will get the job done against the G-Men.