Of course. But it really has not been the case for the Bengal signal-caller. Stuart has broken down “expected” first down conversion percentages based on groupings of down-and-distance data for every play this season. Dalton’s expected conversion rate including situational context is 36.5%, just below league average. Remember, he only has passed for the first down 20.8% of the time. The quick math shows that Dalton is 12% below league average at converting on third and fourth down, even adjusting for context.
That is really bad. No other quarterback is more than 8% worse than league average (Gabbert again). The gap between Dalton and 32nd place is larger than the gap between Gabbert and 23rd place.
We all know the Bengals have not been very good on third down this year, but I would not have guessed Andy Dalton has been that bad in converting first downs. There could be several reasons for this, the most obvious being Dalton’s inconsistency, but also receiver drops, ill-time penalties (like last week), and the relatively small sample size of 77 passes.
Either way, Dalton and the Bengals will need to improve in this area. Third down conversion rates is a statistic that correlates highly with winning. Cincinnati will need to be able to keep drives going to even think about pulling off the upset against New York on Sunday.