A.J. McCarron: Bengals’ Heir Apparent?


Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron on the sidelines against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There is a significant part of the Cincinnati Bengals‘ fan base who have no regard for Andy Dalton. He has become, with Marvin Lewis, one of the faces of ineptitude for the recent playoff failures. Many fans have resigned themselves to the fact as long as Dalton is at the helm, the Bengals will not be successful. Terrelle Pryor has been a career back up, as has Josh Johnson, so neither candidate will threaten Dalton’s grasp on the starting quarterback job. Could the finally healthy A.J. McCarron be an option to unseat the consistently criticized Dalton?

A.J. McCarron is the mystery man for the Bengals, being drafted in the fifth round from the University of Alabama. Bengals fans had their interest piqued, hoping for a competition with Dalton. Unfortunately, McCarron barely got on the field as his sore shoulder precluded him from taking any reps with the team in 2014. The only numbers we can judge McCarron on are the collegiate level ones he accumulated with the University of Alabama.

A.J. McCarron is a three-time National Champion with Alabama, starting for the Rolling Tide every game of his career. His statistics are impressive, totaling 9,019 yards with 77 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions. Andy Dalton, in comparison, had 10,314 yards with 71 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. After researching those numbers, I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the amount of touchdowns McCarron had. He came out very strongly against Nick Saban and his control over the offensive coordinator.

Now that we have all the statistics out there on A.J. McCarron, does he warrant a claim on the Bengals starting QB job? The unrest with Dalton mainly stems from the lack of success in postseason action, with the team’s record being 0-4 under Dalton. His statistics throughout his four years as starting quarterback have been uneven. The lowest amount of interceptions thrown by Dalton was 13 in his rookie year. He is essentially a middle of the road quarterback statistically who has led his team to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons.

With the lack of information/experience Bengals fans have with McCarron, would he be a significantly better option versus Dalton? This situation seems to be the case of “I love what I don’t know.” Bengals nation is intrigued and fascinated by the new guy, while not truly appreciating what we have currently. In my opinion, you should go with the player you know for this particular situation.

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A.J. McCarron has yet to prove any ability on the football field let alone practice with the team. While McCarron will finally get his chance to play on the field, even his coaches are tempering expectations. I certainly admit to experiencing frustration with Andy Dalton and his ineptitude in the playoffs. But let’s not discount the consistency of Dalton and his ability to lead the Bengals to four straight playoff appearances.

Considering the history of the Bengals string of terrible quarterbacking, I am going to keep the known commodity on the field. But here is the last point to consider in this debate: the fact we are having the conversation to remove a four-time playoff performer should make Dalton feel very precarious about his position with the Cincinnati Bengals moving forward.

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