After backup quarterback Kellen Moore suffered a broken ankle last week the Cowboys were looking for veteran help. They reportedly missed out on Nick Foles and were inquiring about the Browns’ Josh McCown.
After a few days, Dallas announced that they were suspending their search for a veteran quarterback. They’re going to see what rookie Dak Prescott and second-year prospect Jameil Showers have to offer.
It could prove to be a very shrewd move. Giving those young players more first and second-team reps in August will only help them now and long term.
However, if neither guy is ready to take advantage of the opportunity, Dallas may end up repeating the mistakes of last season. It may be too late to find an alternative.
Last year, Dallas went into the season with Brandon Weeden as the backup. They had so much faith in Weeden that, immediately after Tony Romo broke his collarbone, they traded for veteran Matt Cassel. Weeden was undermined before he could even start his first game.
That move for Cassel is important to remember because, at that time, you couldn’t have asked for a better “on paper” option. Check out Cassel’s resume prior to 2015:
- Career passer rating above 80.0
- Career W/L record of 35-37 as starter
- 6’5″ and 230 lbs
- 2008 – Led Patriots to 11 wins
- 2010 – Led Chiefs to playoffs
Nick Foles’ profile was hardly much better. Josh McCown’s is roughly the same. At this point, Dallas can’t add anyone who is appreciably better than Cassel was supposed to be.
Granted, not every quarterback can play for any offensive coordinator. Cassel may have simply been a bad fit for Scott Linehan’s system. Also, Cassel didn’t have the benefit of Dez Bryant playing healthy and at his full level.
Still, Cassel had one of the league’s top-five running backs and two QB-friendly receiving options in Jason Witten and Cole Beasley. And yet, this previously solid QB barely looked functional as a Cowboy.
Though there are other factors to consider, one of the primary reasons for Cassel’s failure was that he didn’t join the Cowboys until Week 3.
This time of year we’re in right now, training camp and preseason, is not for nothing. Think about how many hours and how many reps Cassel missed in our offense. How could that not effect him?
Dallas’ plan to ride with Prescott and Showers is noble and potentially very rewarding. If it doesn’t go well, though, then they’re back in the same predicament as last season. Renewing the effort to trade for McCown or going after any other option would give that new veteran the same handicap that Cassel had.
Hopefully, Dallas sees enough in the first preseason game to know what they have in the young players. That would still leave three weeks and three more exhibition games to help get a new guy ready.
Otherwise, if Tony Romo misses more time in 2016, the Cowboys may have screwed themselves all over again.