Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass during fourth quarter of the AFC wild card playoff football game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Is Andy Dalton Better Than He Gets Credit For?

The Cincinnati Bengals, and their fans, are haunted by three consecutive trips to the playoffs that ended in bitter disappointment and bad losses. These ugly endings have marred what has been a remarkable, and unprecedented, run of trips to the postseason. Prior to its current incarnation, the franchise has never made the playoffs more than twice in a row. It’s easy to forget the successes, though, when failure is the last thing fans see.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has taken the brunt of abuse from disgruntled fans who say he is the only reason the Bengals haven’t broken through. The term “quarterback purgatory” has become commonplace in analysis of Dalton, and many of the team’s followers are hungry for a replacement. This dissatisfaction stems from some horrific playoff numbers, including only a single touchdown pass compared to six interceptions, and a playoff passer rating of just 56.2. Beyond just the raw numbers, though, is just simple ineffectiveness that is easy to see. He has looked rattled and it has showed, both on the stat sheet, and on the scoreboard.

Prior to Dalton’s arrival in Cincinnati, the Bengals were a team fed up with their quarterback. Carson Palmer had worn out his welcome, and fans were ready to move on. Dalton lacked size, but he was poised, experience, and smart. This has been evident for most of his NFL career. When provided with adequate protection, and  a good game plan, he has been a solid passer. His regular season numbers have been more than good, and though he certainly has weaknesses, like his deep ball accuracy, he’s better than a large number of signal callers around the league. He’s deadly accurate on most passes and is adept at reading defenses. He also works hard to improve, and is respected by teammates. Playoff problems aside, Dalton has been good.

Detractors make some fair points. He still has trouble fully using the ability of receivers like AJ Green to get deep, and often misses game-changing passes down the field. He also still tends to be sketchy when under pressure, especially if it’s coming up the middle. And then there are those playoff numbers.

Dalton is on the final year of his rookie contract. He may or may not get an extension this offseason. Either way, he’ll face intense pressure and scrutiny from a fanbase tired of agonizing endings to their seasons. It seems pretty clear that Dalton isn’t as bad as many fans believe him to be. However, his reputation hinges on getting that elusive playoff win. If he can get over the hump, fans will forget the early issues. If he can’t get it done, then it might just be time for a replacement, and his playoff failure will be fans’ lasting image.

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  • trinity

    I think Dalton is exactly what he’s known to be. A solid quarterback when the pressure is off, who then becomes a disaster when the pressure is on. What’s wrong with him is mental, not physical.

  • Ron Fulton

    I think Dalton lacks the ability to be as accurate as a NFL QB needs to be. I’m not sure he can overcome this, Don’t forget Mike Vick couldn’t hit hid ass with a barndoor when he came in and he got a little better, but was never a franchise QB.

  • Chase Sallee

    In 2013 Dalton was 2nd in long ball completions behind Peyton Manning, & 7th in long ball accuracy. That’s really good in my opinion especially for a 3rd year player. The whole team lost those playoff games, especially the last one. I think the OC had more to do with the loss than Dalton. Dalton has improved every year & I think he will continue to. I also think Hue Jackson will make the whole offense better. It would be a mistake not to extend him.

  • Mike_Pf

    Not only has Dalton not come up big in big games but no one seems to mention that AJ Green doesn’t come up big in big games.

  • wolchak

    IMO, Dalton choked under pressure, but that’s because the O line didn’t open holes for RBs or pass protect, On the other hand, he overthrew 5 and 10 yd. passes by 6 ft. over receivers’ heads.
    As to only ONE lousy offensive TD in 3 games, I blame Marvin Lewis andJay Gruden’s horrible game plans and lack of any creativity or innovation, What in the world do the Redskins see in this incompetent faker outside of his brother’s genes ?
    BTW, I loved the DC Zimmer, but his run defense sucked big time in ALL 3 post season games. Do you realize S.D. QB, Phillip Rivers only had to throw 12 times because the Bengals run D was absent ?

  • Dusty Lenz

    Beating a dead horse…. I think I have read this article once a week for the last 4 months.