Andy Dalton: Already Better than Carson Palmer?


Oct 11, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Cardnials won 42-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dalton or Carson Palmer?

Andy Dalton was the Bengals’ second-round selection of the 2011 draft; Carson Palmer was the first overall selection of the 2003 draft. Palmer was the Bengals’ starting quarterback for seven seasons; Dalton is midway through his fifth season as the starter.

Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer both have 46 career wins in their respective Bengals careers, so the question must be asked: which quarterback has had the better career as a Bengal to date?

This Sunday’s matchup with Pittsburgh is the Bengals’ most important game to date–not only because it is a must-win game, but also because Dalton has the chance to break the tie with Palmer on the Bengals’ all-time wins list.

So with that, let’s compare Palmer and Dalton side-by-side, including Palmer’s career as a Bengal and his entire NFL career, to find out who is the better of the two quarterbacks.

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Dalton has undoubtedly had the better career of the two players during each of the respective players’ tenures in Cincinnati. While Palmer was a good quarterback in Cincinnati, Dalton has been even better. Some may argue that A.J. Green may have a lot to do with Dalton’s success, but let’s not discredit Dalton here. Palmer had an arsenal out wide as Cincinnati’s gunslinger, spreading the ball to Chad JohnsonT.J. Houshmanzadeh and, for a period of time, Chris Henry. Palmer also had the benefit of a reliable running game led by Rudi Johnson, which Dalton did not have until midway through his fourth season as a quarterback.

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And while many people argue that Palmer came into the Bengals franchise during a disastrous time in team history (thus the bad record and inferior statistics), Dalton came into Cincinnati at a pretty bad time as well.

Palmer was taken first overall out of USC after the Bengals finished 2-14 in 2002. That’s pretty bad. However, most people forget that Palmer redshirted his first season in Cincinnati, as Jon Kitna led the Bengals to an 8-8 record. Thus, the Bengals team Palmer first started for was coming off an 8-8 season in which it placed second in the AFC North. The Bengals went 32-29 in Palmer’s first four seasons, making the playoffs just once in that time span. (Dalton’s Bengals went 40-23-1 in his first four seasons, and they made the playoffs each year).

Andy Dalton came to Cincinnati after the Bengals, under Carson Palmer, finished 4-12. Palmer wanted out of Cincinnati and the Bengals were sick of Chad Johnson’s antics; Johnson (then known as Chad Ochocinco) was traded to the New England Patriots and Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders.

Here’s a quick look at who the Bengals acquired in those two trades alone, just for the fun of it:

From Oakland:

2012 1st-round pick (Dre Kirkpatrick)

2013 2nd-round pick (Giovani Bernard)

From New England:

2012 5th-round pick (Marvin Jones)

2013 6th-round pick (Cobi Hamilton)

That’s a pretty good haul from unloading two players who weren’t ever going to play for the Bengals again. Now back to Dalton vs. Palmer.

Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC wild card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati had started a rebuilding process that could take a long, long time. The consensus around the NFL was that the Bengals were going to be the worst team in the NFL; in fact, many thought the Bengals wouldn’t even win a game.

16 weeks later, the Bengals were a 9-7 team that somehow reached the playoffs. We all know what happened then, but the point is that Dalton entered the league into circumstances that were very similar to those Palmer faced–well, except for the fact that Palmer wasn’t rushed into the league in his first season, his top wide receiver was a six-time Pro Bowler rather than a rookie and he had a running game to help him move the offense. You know, come to think of it, Dalton’s circumstances were actually a lot more difficult than Palmer’s.

Andy Dalton is a better quarterback than Carson Palmer.

Dalton is playing at an MVP-caliber level in 2015–he just won AFC Offensive player of the month–and is about to pass Palmer on the Bengals’ all-time winning list, yet he just turned 28 years old today. His teammates think he’s elite, and his Bengals are 6-0.

And if you want to talk playoffs:

Dalton > Palmer.

Don’t agree? Tell me why on Twitter @HoweNFL. Just a warning: I’m not going to agree with you.

Next: Clint Boling: 'Andy Dalton is an Elite QB'