Dallas Cowboys admit coaches limited Brandon Weeden too much


Following the Dallas Cowboys first loss of the season against the 3-0 Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, post-game reviews have been split over the performance of Cowboys starting quarterback Brandon Weeden. Playing in the place of an injured Tony Romo, Weeden completed an impressive 22 of his 26 passes for 238 yards and one interception in the defeat. It was only his second start as a member of America’s Team.

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But the former first round bust out of Cleveland played a very conservative game, opting to throw easy, underneath completions rather risking any passes further than 20 yards. Weeden failed to complete a single pass to any of his outside receivers in the loss, instead settling for the easier check downs.

Although the plan to keep Weeden in check worked well in the first half, giving the Cowboys a 28-17 lead going into halftime, that restriction was the ultimately team’s downfall. As the Falcons continued to gash Dallas’ defense through the third and fourth quarters, the ineffectiveness of the Cowboys running game suddenly placed the onus of the game on Weeden’s shaky shoulders. And the fourth-year veteran was ill-equipped to answer the call.

Now, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones admits the team was playing it too safe with Weeden under center. And that the blame for the defeat should fall more on the coaching staff and their restrictive gameplan over the 31-year old quarterback’s performance.

"“[Weeden] played a hell of a game the other day,” Jones told the team’s official site on Wednesday. “I think a little bit of it, too, is we had coached him to be very conservative, especially when we started off with a good first half. You didn’t want to go out and make mistakes that would hand the game to them. A lot of that was a little bit of how we coached him all week, to protect the ball and be conservative, and it worked well in the first half. Anyway, we’ll just have to adjust and go from there.”"

As of now, it appears Weeden will be the starting quarterback for the Cowboys as the face the New Orleans Saints at home on Sunday night. And the veteran admits that playing the underneath game it’s really his strong suit. He actually prefers to air it out. And if those plays are open against the Saints, he’s history suggest he won’t be shy about throwing it deep.

"“Throwing the ball on the boundary and throwing the comebacks, that’s my strength,” Weeden told DallasCowboys.com. “I’ve played a lot of football games. I’ve never been criticized of checking the ball down. That’s really not me. If you’ve watched me play in college or high school, I’m stretching it.”"

With a well-publicized cannon for an arm, the former baseball pitcher has no troubling throwing those intermediate to deep passes. But with a professional career completion rate hovering around 57%, the Cowboys coaching staff was justifiably concerned about Weeden’s accuracy and the team’s ability to get open deep against the Falcons defensive secondary. It now appears Dallas will allow the veteran quarterback a little more leeway against the Saints this Sunday…for better or worse.

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