3 Reasons Andy Dalton Had A Successful Year

Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

In the midst of a subpar year, Andy Dalton quietly put up numbers that were better or comparable to his peers in the playoffs.

With the loss of Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator, all bets were off. This was going to be the year that Andy Dalton reverted back to Bad Andy. Instead, Dalton was able to weather the storm and put together a year that was decent. In terms of winning, the Bengals came up short. The less than stellar 6-9-1 record will surely be placed on the signal-caller. Unfortunately, that’s the name of the game in the NFL. But, The Ginger actually looked good on the field. 

Ken Zampese took over as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, for the 2016 campaign. Zampese was formerly the quarterback coach and has been around for Dalton’s growing pains. When Dalton won the AFC passing title in 2015, Zampese was instrumental in grooming the champ. Amazingly, not many fans remember the final numbers. It was all about the Wild Card loss to the heathens from the northeast (Steelers).

Dalton didn’t regress. Instead, he was able to perform admirably without many of his key weapons. Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu disappeared in free agency. Tyler Eifert never made the comeback the Bengals and fans expected. Then, there was the huge loss of A.J. Green in Week 11. Through it all, Dalton was able to put up more than decent numbers. Stats don’t win games…but they can definitely expose a player’s weakness or strength. 

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Raw Numbers

The biggest improvement for Dalton, in 2016, was passing yardage. The Red Rifle got close to his own franchise record. By passing for 4,206 yards, Dalton tied Carson Palmer as the only Bengals signal-caller to hit that mark twice. Palmer notched his yards in 2006 and 2007.

For all the Dalton haters, here’s the best news. He was able to lower his interception ratio (1.4) and stay on the downward end of the INT graph. Though he was picked off eight times, that’s nowhere near the 20 that he tossed in 2013. That total may spike next year. With more attempts comes the risk of more interceptions. But, Zampese wants Dalton to be more of a playmaker and go downfield more often.

"“We were very low on turnovers, which is great. But if you don’t score enough it doesn’t make that much difference,” Zampese explained, per Bengals.com. “It’s about scoring and we didn’t. The low turnovers are fantastic, but you have to do both and we didn’t. There were some positives to be taken away in the way he produced, certainly. But we didn’t win. Quarterbacks are here to win and we didn’t win enough.”"

Dalton’s QBR (58.2) was lower than last year’s mark (73.1). But, it was lower in every playoff season other than 2015. His completion percentage (64.7) was comparable to other quarterbacks starting in playoffs games. His 18 TD’s were more than adequate, with the loss of weapons and building chemistry with new players.

Pocket Presence

If it seemed like Mr. Dalton was running for his life…he was. The Bengals’ offensive line allowed 41 sacks. There was no need to strain your brain. The weakest link hindering the Bengals’ success was the O-line. There were flashes of brilliance but nothing that screamed stability. Surprisingly, Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals’ line at No. 13 on their yearly list.

In the face of burly tackles and speedy edge rushers, Dalton was able to toss up pretty good stats. According to PFF, the line gave up 14 fewer pressures than in 2015. Surely, Dalton didn’t see it that way from his place on the turf. But, the fact that he was able to connect for 11.6 yards per completion shows maturity. He was able to stand in the pocket and get the connection.

Much of Dalton’s awareness can be traced back to his offseason workouts with quarterback guru Tom House. His mechanics and footwork have been increasingly stable since the meetings began.

Also, the lack of having a crutch in Eifert, Green and Giovani Bernard made him think. Sometimes the biggest problems can lead to the wisest decisions. Suddenly, there were more options to find when big yardage was needed.

Durability And Experience

During a year that seemed almost fruitless to fans, there was one big achievement. Dalton was able to stay healthy. The 2015 season was a big “what if” scenario. If Andy was able to stay in the lineup, there could have been a totally different ending to the January 9 meltdown. In fact, if Dalton is healthy for the Week 16 battle in Denver…Adam Jones and the Bengals might have gotten the Bye Week and avoided the Steelers.

Seeing Andy get through the season without an injury was huge. The Bengals won just six games this season. But, Dalton gained experience that will either make or break his 2017 campaign. Hopefully, he witnessed how important the position has become over the years. When the Bengals lost him for the playoffs, nobody–outside of Bengals fans–really understood the situation. Yet, when the Raiders’ Derek Carr was out against the Texans football purists suddenly paid attention.

Next: The Bengals In Another City?

Dalton’s season would have been sweeter with a playoff berth and his first win. But, the upcoming season may be the answer for what he missed.