It’s time for our midseason awards as we look at the player who has been pivotal in the Cincinnati Bengals offense ascending into the top-10 and now looks like a unit capable of going toe-to-toe with any NFL team. After back-to-back years in the mid-20s in total offensive rankings, they are currently the No. 4 unit in total offense this year.
Now, here’ who we think has been the most important player on offense.
You can go around the roster as much as you want, but it all comes back to third year signal-called Andy Dalton. The player who could have once been perceived as holding the team back has now become their greatest asset. He’s thrown for 11 touchdown compared to one interception over the last three weeks. That goes along with 1034 yards, which is nothing but impressive.
Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andre Smith (71) blocks Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Andre Smith. What, what, what, you say? Rewind the clock six months until moments before the 2013 NFL Draft when the Bengals sign the veteran right tackle to a multi-million dollar five-year deal. The deal freed the Bengals up to get Tyler Eifert, Giovanni Bernard, Margus Hunt, etc in the following days, so for that reason alone he may be considered for an award.
Nonetheless, the way he has earned his money has made him worth every penny. Smith has seen more playing time than Andrew Whitworth at this point, pushing back criticism that he did not show up in top shape. Further, he has reduced his penalties at the line (35), allowed minimal sacks (3), and aided in shutting down several aggressive defensive rushes (Detroit, Buffalo, New York, Pittsburgh).
Andy Dalton’s successes start in the trenches with the time he has had to make his big chunk yardage; Smith is a critical reason this has been possible.