What’s keeping Andy Dalton from becoming a top-tier quarterback?

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Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Andy Dalton is moving into year seven with the Bengals. The system is the same and he has new weapons. This should be the year he arrives.

There’s a lot to be said about holding the position of signal-caller in the NFL. The job has evolved into more than just looking to the sidelines and running the play that’s sent in. Today’s quarterback must encompass more than just a decent arm. He has to be a commanding figure who can lead the troops into battle and make winning look easy. Andy Dalton has been with the Bengals for seven years. Although he’s had some good years, he still hasn’t cracked the top-tier. What’s holding him back?

From looking at his stats, he’s got the tools to take a team to the Big Dance. But, since entering the league in 2011, he hasn’t been considered franchise material. Honestly, part of the problem is being under center for the Bengals. It’s not the recent teams. He’s been part of some monster rosters. But, the mystique of the Bengals franchise is one of mediocrity. Football purists don’t think Cincinnati when talking Super Bowl. So, naturally, Dalton doesn’t come up in conversations much.

Even with the Bengals having a horrendous 6-9-1 campaign last year, Dalton was able to make some strides. But, those personal statistics mean nothing when it comes to bragging rights. The NFL is all about the here and now.

When It Counts 

No drum rolls or fancy superlatives needed here. Dalton has to get the job done when it’s crunch time. Obviously, The Ginger understands what needs to happen. During a recent press conference, Dalton expressed his displeasure with not winning like he did in college. In other words, the stats from his first losing season with the Bengals are nagging him. Being a winner is what motivates him.

"“I think that’s the most important stat. We need to get back to what we were doing and win when it matters.”"

Well, that means getting psyched to do damage in primetime. It also means taking the Bengals on his shoulders and willing them to win in situations that look hopeless. Dalton has to embody the mantra of top-tier quarterbacks around the league. Failure is an excuse born of bad choices. If Dalton makes the “right” choices, he’ll get to the elite level in no time. But, it starts with the sting of losing. If Andy has been hanging around Marsellus Wallace ( feel that sting?), it’s time to break those ties.

If the Bengals are favored to win, it has to happen. Even when the odds are in the opponent’s favor…find a way.

Could It Be The Coaching?

Frankly, this has to be on the minds of every devoted Bengals fan. If Andrew Dalton were playing for another team, would he be a franchise worthy quarterback? Here’s the sad truth. Yes. Dalton would be a top-tier signal-caller and possibly have a Super Bowl under his belt. How, you ask? Whenever Dalton hits a stride, there’s a changing of the guard. First, there was Jay Gruden leaving for Washington. That was followed by Hue Jackson being enticed by the Browns. With three OC’s in his life, he was bound to have snags here and there.

Next: The Elite Cincy D

"“I said last year there was a lot of stuff that was new, obviously with Zamp (OC Ken Zampese) taking over at coordinator and with a couple new receivers being out there. We really don’t have that this year. Guys understand what we are trying to do.”"

Consistency is the key to rising to the next tier. As long as the musical chairs continue, Dalton will improve and then have to start over. The system ids the same but the way it’s communicated is different. Keep Zamp in place and Andy will get back to his 2015 form and more.

The 2017 season should be Dalton’s time to prove he’s arrived. The system is the same and he has the weapons. Now, it’s all about his choices.

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