Dalton’s Deep Ball Dilemma


Earlier this week, Twitter was abuzz with talk about Andy Dalton‘s arm. Greg Cosell addressed it, saying there was concern in the Bengals organization about his arm strength and what kind of upside he might have. This led to a statement from offensive coordinator Jay Gruden:

"I don’t know where that came from and why he (Cosell) said it. If there were reservations about Andy Dalton there would be a lot more quarterbacks here right now. We know and he knows he has to get better and he is chomping at the bit to get going. I have no reservations about his arm strength. I think he can do it all. He might not run 4.3 in the 40 or be 6-6 but to play the position and what we need to do he can do everything we want."

Dalton himself also responded to the criticism with this:

"I’m comfortable with it. Everyone knows what they are going to get out of me. I don’t think it held us back last year and I don’t think it is going to hold me back in my career. Arm strength is one thing, there’s a lot to throwing. It’s timing, consistency and making sure everyone is on the same page. I’m going to keep working but I don’t think arm strength is an issue."

"The supposed concerns spread among Bengals fans, as well as other sports personalities who all had an opinion one way or the other. Some said he does have a weak arm that limits what he can do. Others pointed out the terrific rookie season, saying his arm strength, or lack thereof, obviously wasn’t much of an issue. I had numerous conversations with other football fans, and the diversity of thoughts on the subject led me to do some research. First of all, I looked up his passing splits for the season, mainly passes over 20 yards downfield. I then found comparable numbers for some of the other highly rated quarterbacks around the league. Putting the numbers up against each other gave some interesting results. Andy Dalton:                    42.8% 7 TDs 5 INTs Tom Brady:                         31.9% 6 TDs 0 INTs Cam Newton:                    36.3% 7 TDs 4 INTs Ben Roethlisberger:    29.1% 5 TDs 6 INTs Eli Manning:                     37.8% 10 TDs 6 INTs Joe Flacco:                          23.1% 6 TDs 4 INTs Philip Rivers:                 32.4% 9 TDs 7 INTs Matt Schaub:                     36.7% 5 TDs 0 INTs Matthew Stafford:         34.9% 8 TDs 2 INTs Matt Ryan:                          23.4% 4 TDs 1 INT    Those numbers appear to show that Dalton’s accuracy on deep balls is as good or better than any quarterback not named Rodgers or Brees, who are off the charts on deep balls. Does this mean that Dalton has a cannon? Of course not, but it shows me that his arm strength isn’t hindering his ability to hit long passes. Footwork, accuracy, and timing are all important factors, and are all things Dalton can and will continue to work on. Let’s not forget that guys like Drew Brees and Joe Montana didn’t throw the longest passes through the air, so there’s a precedent for a guy with Dalton’s abilities to succeed. Dalton’s biggest struggle last year was actually on intermediate routes between 11 and 20 yards deep. Having Jordan Shipley back, and better use of Jermaine Gresham will help there, and a full offseason to work will only help other areas, including deep passes. It’s May, so the media and fans alike need something to talk about. Dalton’s perceived lack of big play potential fits the bill this week, but it seems to be a non-issue so far. Besides the fact that the team is winning, the stats show that he’s doing as well as pretty much anybody else. Stats can be deceiving, but at this point, I don’t see a reason to panic. His deep ball numbers are pretty good, and numbers don’t lie. Want more Bengals news? Like Stripe Hype on Facebook, follower us on Twitter, or grab our RSS feed. And don’t for give to show the author some love on his twitter:  @vancemeek"