Matt Cassel will make his first start for the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday against the Giants, but no one is really sure what to expect from him.
One of his former teammates, however, ventured a guess.
“I don’t know if Matt would appreciate this comparison or not,” three-time Super Bowl champion and current footballbyfootball.com analyst Matt Chatham said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I hope he does – because I mean it in a positive way – but I kind of look at the Ryan Fitzpatrick situation with the New York Jets. Matt is much the same way as Fitzy is where there’s a sneaky ability to run that I think people often disregard. Matt’s the kind of guy who, if you don’t front the pocket, he is a downfield pocket kind of thrower, but he’ll pull it down and get the first down from time to time. He has that ability that people I think sometimes sleep on. But I think like the Fitzpatrick situation, he’s a guy who, when things are right – when he’s got multiple weapons around him, when there’s several legitimate places to go with the ball – he can make plays. He can get it done.
“But the issue there in Dallas is much like it was for Brandon Weeden: Just how thin are they?” Chatham continued. “I think just from a game-planning standpoint, one of the issues with them is you can slide coverage to Jason Witten. You can guard against Terrance Williams. There are issues in the red zone where Cole Beasley pops up, but there’s enough sort of knowns that it makes it much easier to game-plan against them. Then you just sort of address the run game with whatever you think fits. If they don’t have it, it’s very difficult to get much done. So I think that’s what makes it tough. I certainly hope that Matt provides them a spark, but he’s not demonstratively different than maybe Brandon was. So I’m not certain, at least until I see it, what they’ll try to do different with him.”
Dallas has lost three straight games since Tony Romo fractured his left clavicle. It seems like the Cowboys’ decision to bench Weeden and start Cassel is a desperate attempt to try something – anything – to spark the offense.
“Especially in that Matt hasn’t been there,” Chatham said. “Brandon has been their backup for a while. He’s a guy that’s known in the building, and like I mentioned, I don’t think the skill sets are too dramatically different from one another. It’s not that (they’re going to go downfield every play) because Matt’s there. I think there will be an element of that – something they were a little reticent to do with Brandon for whatever reason, but again, I think the biggest issue isn’t so much who’s standing behind center right now. It’s who are they going to throw to? Matt is a smart guy, though. I think if anyone can come in and get up to speed in a few short weeks, it’s probably him.”