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Can Brandon Weeden keep Cowboys alive in NFC East?

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The fate of the Dallas Cowboys now rests in the hands of Brandon Weeden.

That reality alone is enough to scare the fan base, but the backup to Tony Romo -- expected to miss eight weeks with a fractured left clavicle -- isn't worried about his Q Rating.

"I've got to be ready," Weeden said after Sunday's 20-10 win over the Eagles, per the team's official website. "Whether it's a stubbed toe or an injury like that, you've got to be ready at all times."

It's a statement spit out, like pull-string dolls, by every backup league-wide: I've got to be prepared to take the field.

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But the Cowboys are in desperate shape, having lost their star receiver Dez Bryant and franchise quarterback in back-to-back tilts. Their 2-0 record won't last long unless we see a vastly different version of Weeden than what the passer showed in compiling a 5-16 record over three-plus seasons.

Twenty of those starts came with a talent-bereft Browns club that crumbled under Weeden's penchant for bizarre throws and ghastly turnovers, but Cowboys coach Jason Garrett expressed supreme confidence in his 31-year-old backup after Weeden's 7-of-7 passing performance against the Eagles:

"Brandon came in and did a really nice job. He's a professional. He's ready for that opportunity," Garrett said. "He came in, he had poise, he had composure. He ran the offense and made the plays when we needed to make them. I thought everyone else on offense rallied around him, too."

They'll need to from here. Weeden marched into Week 2 with the second-lowest Total QBR over the past four seasons of any passer in the league outside of Blake Bortles, a 23-year-old arm just beginning his NFL story.

It's not just the severe downgrade in physical traits. Weeden was the first to acknowledge that Romo is "essentially another coach on the field" in how he "gets guys lined up, does all the right things, extremely savvy, smart and in my opinion a very, very elite quarterback."

Conversely, Weeden hits the scene with a strong arm, but a shaky 27-to-28 touchdown-to-pick ratio that tells the tale of his shaky accuracy and questionable decision-making at the pro level. The weight falls squarely on the Cowboys' committee-based ground game and upstart defense to bail out a passer who has never effectively carried a team.

Back in July, we ranked Weeden 19th in our list of the top 32 backup quarterbacks. He has plenty of doubters based on the flaky game tape he's produced since the Browns mistakenly made him the No. 22 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. If he can keep the Cowboys afloat, he'll surprise the masses and go a long way toward rewriting the narrative around his milquetoast career.

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