If the Bengals are able to build off of a good 2011 season with their young core of players, they’ll do so with second-year quarterback Andy Dalton at the helm. He and wide-out A.J. Green broke NFL records for completions and yards for a rookie quarterback/receiver combination, even without the benefit of an offseason.Daltonis also the only quarterback in NFL history not drafted in the first round to start all 16 games of his rookie season, and is one of five rookie quarterbacks with over 3,000 passing yards and at least 20 touchdown passes.
After making the 2011 Pro Bowl as an alternate after throwing for 3,398 yard and 20 touchdowns, he’s already set the bar very high for 2012.
Now we’ll take a look at some of the potential success Dalton will hopefully have this season, over/under style:
Throws for 3500 yards —OVER
After coming just 102 yards short of reaching this mark in 2011, there’s no reason to believe a full offseason with Jay Gruden won’t lead to more intermediate-downfield passing forDaltonthis year after being restricted last year as a rookie. His 6.6 yards per attempt was only good enough to be 24th in the entire NFL out of 33 eligible QBs. Expect the Bengals to air it out more this year and Dalton to come close to the 4,00 yard plateau.
Throws 20 Touchdowns-OVER
With the return of A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, who combined for 13 of the Bengals’ receiving TDs last year with a combined one year of NFL experience between them, they’ll only continue to blossom in 2012, and thus the number of Dalton TD throws will increase. 25 seems like a reasonable expectation forDalton.
Throws 13 interceptions —OVER
Here’s where I thinkDaltonwill struggle this year. With the rushing offense looking like its taken a step back from an already average unit that ranked 19th overall last season, which means more pressure will be put onDaltonand the passing offense, which ultimately will lead to more interceptions. While I don’t think the sophomore slump will plagueDaltonthis year, he will finish the season with around 14-17 INTs.
60% completion rate —OVER
With the departure of Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, who combined for 15 dropped passes last season, the Bengals will likely replace them with Brandon Tate, Marvin Jones, and Armon Binns who looked good catching the ball during the preseason, but can they get separation from their defenders consistently will be a huge question mark going forward. The Bengals also added TE Orson Charles, and with a full offseason of throwing to the same group of receiver and building chemistry after last year’s lockout, I expectDaltonto be slightly above the 60% mark.