NFL Network: Is Andy Dalton the Rookie QB in the Best Situation?

On Wednesday’s episode of “Total Access” on the NFL Network, three analysts discussed which rookie quarterback they thought was drafted into the best situation.

AP Photo/Mike Fuentes

Each analyst listed his own quarterback and why he liked him. The three QBs selected were Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert, Minnesota’s Christian Ponder, and Cincinnati’s own Andy Dalton. Brian Baldinger likes Gabbert because he has the ability to learn and watch while David Garrard runs the offense. Solomon Wilcots likes Ponder because of the weapons around him, and a solid offensive line and defense. Fran Charles brought up Andy Dalton, citing the weapons around him and his accurate passing.

Andy Dalton drew the most discussion, and Cincinnati-resident Solomon Wilcots doesn’t like Andy Dalton’s chances to succeed, but Brian Baldinger is very optimistic about Dalton’s potential.

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Fran Charles: Now, what about a guy like Andy Dalton? Who, hopefully for the Bengals’ sake- if they get Cedric Benson back, Chad Ochocinco has been doing a lot of other things, but he still can play football definitely when he wants to- what about a guy like Andy Dalton? Who’s going to, if Carson Palmer stays retired, he’s going to be the starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. And, unlike a guy like Locker, he’s a little bit more accurate.

Solomon Wilcots: Oh, he starts. He starts. The thing about him though, Jay Gruden is the new offensive coordinator, so the offense is gonna change in Cincinnati. It’s a west coast system. They believe Andy Dalton is more suited to this offense. He’s smart, he’s accurate, he’s won a lot of games at TCU. However, there’s gonna be a huge adjustment. There’s some young players on offense that he is surrounded by: Jordan Shipley, going into his second year. Jermaine Gresham, going into his second year. Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell- still young players. I still think a young quarterback surrounded by young offensive weapons and a new system that no ones played in, I think there’s potential to struggle there.

Brian Baldinger: Solomon, here’s the way I’m gonna go, though, with Andy Dalton. I think he’s playing behind a very good offensive line- Andrew Whitworth at Left Tackle, very underrated, but I think it’s a good offensive line, I think he’ll be protected. I think Jay Gruden will draw this offense up to protect his quarterback. I think he has a chance, in Cincinnati, to be productive right now– especially if they sign Cedric Benson.

Both Charles and Baldinger like Dalton’s potential this year, but both mentioned the IF factor of Cedric Benson’s free agent status. Having a strong running game, [as they pointed out earlier in the episode with examples of Joe Flacco in Baltimore and Matt Ryan in Atlanta] is crucial for a rookie quarterback to succeed. Fran Charles also like Dalton’s accuracy and thinks getting Ochocinco back will be helpful as well.

Solomon, also known as a commentator on CBS game telecasts, thinks that Dalton is facing an uphill battle because he has to learn a new offense and has too many young players around him. Bengals fans, though, are hopeful for the potential of this youth movement, and they like the fact that the entire offense will be growing and learning together. It’s a fountain of youth, as Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson put it.

Lastly, Brian “Baldy” Baldinger brought some much needed praise to Bengals Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth. He thinks that the combination of Benson, Jay Gruden, and Dalton will be productive in 2011, and I don’t disagree with him. If the Bengals re-sign Cedric Benson, they may have the chance to surprise everyone this year.

Topics: Andy Dalton, NFL Network, Total Access

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