With change to Matt Cassel, Cowboys need others to play better

Matt Cassel is going to need help from the entire Cowboys team if Dallas hopes to stay afloat until Tony Romo returns. AP Photo/Brandon Wade

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is not one to make quick, emotional decisions.

He also doesn't believe in making change for change sake, so Garrett's decision to replace Brandon Weeden with Matt Cassel, as a source told ESPN's Ed Werder, should not be viewed casually.

"I think you want to have substance to change, that's with scheme, that's with personnel, that's at all positions," Garrett said Monday, the day after the Cowboys' third straight loss. "You want to make changes that make sense.

"If you just start changing things for the hell of it, everybody starts looking around like, ‘What are these guys doing?' We have core beliefs. We have convictions about how we want to do things, what we want to accomplish in all three phases of our football team, why we want to play guys, why we want to do certain things. If we make any changes to those things, there has to be a valid reason for it."

Weeden was not the entire problem with the stagnant offense.

The Cowboys scored 28 points on Weeden's first four drives as the starter against the Atlanta Falcons but only 26 in the past two games against the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.

Weeden is paying for the sins of the entire offense. He hasn't had Dez Bryant. He hasn't had a strong running game. He hasn't had receivers winning enough on the outside. He hasn't had a defense that was able to sustain a 28-17 halftime lead or give him a chance to beat the Saints in overtime with New Orleans scoring on the second play of the extra session.

But he was not blameless. He followed the take-what-they-give game plan against the Falcons, checking it down even when they needed to get the ball down the field. Against the Saints, he was unable to connect on red zone throws after a 67-yard completion to Brice Butler. Against the Patriots, he forced a throw that was intercepted and should have had a second pass picked off.

As he stood outside the Cowboys' locker room after Sunday's loss to the Patriots, Weeden said he understands how the game is played when it comes to his position.

"I have to say the right things," Weeden said. "The quarterback has to play well to give the team a chance to win. That's been my goal these three starts. The first couple of weeks I felt I did that."

Even if Cassel has more experience than Weeden, the move is not a sure thing success will follow. He has been with the Cowboys for less than a month, learning his third offense in two seasons.

He could have Bryant when the Cowboys play the Giants if Bryant's surgically repaired foot is healed enough for him to practice next week. That will help, but Bryant can't be expected to be Bryant after such a long layoff.

The Cowboys will still have to prove they can run the ball consistently, too. They opened up with big runs for Weeden against the Falcons but couldn't sustain it. They opened with big runs against the Saints but couldn't sustain it. The longest run against New England was 14 yards.

The feeling was that the Cowboys had to do something -- anything -- even if Garrett doesn't believe in change for change sake.

The goal for Cassel is the same as it was for Weeden: Keep the Cowboys afloat until Tony Romo returns.