Who Dey Notes: Andy Dalton Has Come Of Age

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Sep 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) tries to bat down a pass by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Jets 23-22. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) tries to bat down a pass by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Jets 23-22. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /
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In the face of a daunting New York Jets pass rush, Andy Dalton remained calm. He composed himself and proved he’s the leader the Bengals need.

If you didn’t see it, check out the end of the Bengals game against the Jets. Use your favorite device and closely observe Andy Dalton on the game-winning drive. Dalton haters will say the same thing they always preach: “He got lucky.” The truth of the matter is simple. The Ginger is finally turning into the signal-caller Coach Lewis and Co. drafted in 2011. 

On the drive that propelled the Bengals to a Week 1 victory, Dalton looked poised and confident. There’s no need to shower him with the typical comparisons. No, he’s not Tom Brady. Don’t be silly…he’s isn’t Joe Montana. But, he has become a quarterback that is the heartbeat of Cincinnati’s franchise.

The 2015 season saw Dalton mature, confident leader. Suddenly, the soft-spoken kid who barely smiled is a beaming sensation. There’s no reason to believe the transformation is temporary. Since Dalton gained a complete grasp of the Bengals offensive scheme, his play calling has become a thing of beauty.

What’s so impressive about the way Dalton has matured? There’s a totally different quarterback on the field. Not only has he become a leader, his decision-making has been turned up a notch.

In The Face Of Pressure

During Sunday’s game, Andy could have folded and reverted to the things he used to do. Bad Andy had every reason to resurface. The Jets’ defense tossed him around the field like a rag doll. Yet, under the constant blitzes, he was able to check down and put the Bengals in positions to move the ball. 

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The first quarter was a brutal reminder of what the Jets wanted to do: keep pressure on the quarterback. They made that painfully clear by tallying two quick sacks and an INT. Instead of letting the situation control him (Bad Andy), he kept cool and worked magic with Ken Zampese. At times, it seemed as if Zampese and Dalton had entered a Vulcan Mind Meld.  

Who Dey Notes: Andy Dalton Has Come Of Age
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

How impressive was Dalton’s day? While the Jets slammed him to the turf seven times, he was able to complete 76.7 percent of his passes. The Ginger’s final numbers also showcased a passer rating of 114.0. That’s huge. It’s a sign of his composure under pressure.

Hopefully, Bengals faithful can stop pulling their hair out. Cincinnati decided to let Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu walk, during free agency. They were the go-to guys when Dalton needed a big play. Brandon LaFell looks like a solid answer. LaFell left New York with four catches and 91 yards in his pocket.

It’s evident that Dalton has moved on. He’s having fun with his new weapons and showing fans and analysts what he can do when given the time.

Bottom Line

If the Bengals are hoping to capture another AFC North crown, the offensive line play needs to be addressed. Frankly, there can be no thoughts of dominating the division, when the man under center is being harassed.

Paul Alexander will need to figure out what the problem is. Maybe it was the emotion of the day. Most of the issues could have been caused the Jets being pumped for the home opener. Five of the seven sacks came in the first half.

Dalton looks like he’s on par for another stellar year. Without a doubt, Andy has found his groove and the record isn’t scratched.

Next: Passing Grade?

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