Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton before the AFC wild card playoff game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals' Worst Nightmare: What if Andy Dalton doesn't step up in 2013?

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After all the drama and disappointment that was the Carson Palmer fiasco, Bengal fans were finally gifted a QB that was a proven winner and had the intangibles on and off the field to spark a resurgence after the dismal 2010 season. Andy Dalton out of TCU was a widely unheralded name before being taken in the second round by the Bengals. Nobody was really sure what they were getting with the little known QB.

However, he stepped in as a first year starter and led the Bengals to the playoffs for the first time since 2005. His second year, he avoided the sophomore slump and produced above his rookie season by 7 TDs and 300 odd yards. Despite these achievements, he has still yet to win us a playoff game. The 2013 season will be a make or break year for Dalton as he must get over the hump and lead us deep into the playoffs or questions will start to be asked.

My worst fear is, what if he doesn’t progress? If Dalton can’t prove to the NFL and the Bengal faithful that he can be an elite QB, or at least win like one, then that leaves the Cincy coaching staff with some unanswered questions in the next offseason. Do we draft a new QB? Do we sign one in Free Agency? Do we just ride Dalton out?

These are the sorts of problems that we may be faced with. I do not fancy any of the QBs coming out of next years college season to be Pro Bowl-caliber in their first year. Free Agent QBs are also tricky to rely on as there will be not too many starter-quality signal-callers next year, and surely backups Josh Johnson and John Skelton can’t be the answer.

I believe that Andy Dalton will be able to step up and take the leap into the upper echelon of QBs this year, especially with a stingy defence and the offensive weapons that surround him. If he doesn’t then I would not like to be on the Bengals staff making the decisions, nor do I want to wait another 5 years to see the Bengals playing football in January.

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Tags: Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals NFL NFL Offseason

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