November 18, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) is congratulated by quarterback Andy Dalton (14) in the second half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Bengals won 28-6. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
In 2012, Dalton put up solid numbers with a new receiving core that included Green, Gresham, Armon Binns (from the practice squad), Mohamed Sanu (rookie), Marvin Jones (rookie) and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins. Dalton was 329 for 528 in passing which is a 62.3% completion percentage, for 3,669 yards, with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Dalton also ran the ball 47 times for 120 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who was sacked 46 times. Also, Bengals receivers dropped a combined 20 passes last season, which were all incompletions. Dalton threw 199 incomplete passes in 2012, of which 20 would’ve been drops. Therefore, Bengals receivers are dropping the ball at an alarming rate of 10%. The Bengals also only converted 34% of all third downs in 2012, another unacceptable number.
Without the drops and the sacks, would Dalton be an elite quarterback? Simply put, no. There are flaws to Dalton’s game that he has to improve if the Bengals want to go deep into the playoffs in 2013. There is no doubt in the playoff game against the Texans that with 6 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, down by 6, the ball needs to be in the quarterback’s hands, and it was, and the Bengals failed to capitalize. 46 sacks, 34% third down conversions and 10% of passes dropped is not a winning formula at any level, yet with all this, Dalton has a winning 19-15 record going into his 3rd season.
With more consistency at the wide receiver position this offseason, and a virtually unchanged offensive line, look for Dalton to have an excellent 3rd season. The Bengals have drafted around Dalton, and are now handing him the keys to the car and all Dalton has to do is drive. Watch for Dalton to not only drive, but drive well into a 4,000 yard passing season and over 30 touchdowns. Anything less than a deep playoff run this season is going to be a disappointment, and assuming he and his receivers stay healthy, there is no reason not to think this proven winner won’t get it done in year 3.