The 2012 season is over for the Cincinnati Bengals, and though it didn’t end happily, it was a good season that should give hope to fans for the future, having made the playoffs for two straight seasons for the first time in 30 years. As the rest of the league finishes playing out the playoffs, the Bengals will begin to evaluate the roster in preparation for free agency and the draft, determining what needs they have and the best way to solve them. I’ll once again take up my red pen, and grade each positional group, and give my opinions on where the team can get better, and where the offseason focus should be.
Quarterback: Andy Dalton is an enigma. His rookie year provided Bengals fans with an amazing amount of optimism about the future of the QB position. He showed accuracy, intelligence, and drive, even though he didn’t have a huge arm. Season two was statistically a solid season, but it had a sense of promise unfulfilled. Fans expected improvement, especially on downfield throws, but he seemed to struggle badly, and his pocket presence was especially lacking, as he often stepped into sacks, and other times just didn’t feel pressure at all. This led to drive-killing sacks, and crushing turnovers. Going forward he has to learn to settle into the pocket, and both feel the rush to avoid it, but not panic and run when he doesn’t need to. Defenses must respect his ability to throw it, or the run game cannot prosper. Per Profootballfocus.com, in the Bengals playoff game against the Texans, when under pressure, Dalton was 3 of 10 for 11 yards, with 2 sacks. He must improve in 2013, if the Bengals want to take the next step. Grade: C