Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton Will Finally Be Elite

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Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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As training camp opens, the quarterback questions will finally be put to rest. This is the year a healthy Dalton gets it done.

When the term “elite” is mentioned, in reference to quarterbacks, one name is usually never spoken. Andy Dalton has been shunned as a capable signal-caller, since his first snap in 2011. The NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2016 could help put an end to that drought. After entering the rankings at No. 35, it’s time for the Dalton doubters to take another look at the Ginger. This may be the year he proves them all wrong.

Dalton was a major cog, in the high-octane Bengals offense. During the 2015 season, he suddenly had that elusive light bulb snap on. The playbook became his toy and he was able to audible his way out of most jams. If that seems like something that doesn’t mean much, think about a screaming Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage. How many times did he shout Omaha, to change a play or send a player in motion?

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Dalton picked up on the subtleties of the Bengals’ offense. He was comfortable and changed plays when the formation looked predictable. To be more specific, Dalton came of age and surprised a few people in the process.    

Does that mean Bengals faithful will be seeing the second coming of Ken Anderson? If they’re lucky, yes. Dalton has made the leap from looking and learning to execution and dissection. Last year, the Red Rifle was on the verge of challenging for league MVP. If not for the dreaded Week 14 fracture, Cam Newton may have been the runner-up.

One look at Dalton’s numbers proved he made the transition. The area of most improvement was his touchdowns to interceptions ratio. According to Sporting Charts, a “good” year for a QB is a ratio of 2. Before Dalton went down with the injury, he had 25 touchdowns to 7 picks. That leaves him with a ratio of 3.57. Using the formula of the site, that puts Dalton in the right territory. By their standards, 3.5 ranks as elite.

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Of course, it takes more than numbers, to get the coveted status. Over the first half of 2015, Dalton was able to use leadership and improved insight, to guide the Bengals. The 8-0 run was a combination of year-five maturity, Dalton stepping to the plate, and a command of the playbook. Everything that needed to come together…came together.

Love him or hate him, Tom Brady has the rings and talent to be called an elite signal-caller. Dalton’s newest teammate, Brandon LaFell, doled out the comparisons, via ESPN.

"“Everybody respects him just like everybody respects Brady. How Brady demanded the best out of everybody, Andy’s doing the same thing here.”"

His teammates believe. But, the biggest piece of the puzzle will be the postseason. A healthy Dalton will win his first playoff game and put the doubts to rest. Having the consistency of the same scheme—and Ken Zampese to push him—will create the elite quarterback many have always expected.

This is the year Mr. Dalton shines.

Next: Who Dey?! Nooobody!

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