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Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton off to a shaky start

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CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 11: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on before a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Paul Brown Stadium on August 11, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 11: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on before a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Paul Brown Stadium on August 11, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals saw their first preseason action on Friday. They won the game but Andy Dalton’s play on the Bengals opening drive proved troubling.

The Bengals season kicked off on Friday with a game at home against the Buccaneers. The Week 1 preseason game serves as the first look at key players since the end of last season. One of the players in the spotlight was Andy Dalton. Dalton has been one of the most scrutinized Bengals for the duration of his career. The primary gripe of fans is that he has never been able to produce when it counts most. Unfortunately, his opening night performance did nothing to dispel those criticisms.

What Happened?

On the Bengals opening drive, Dalton methodically led the offense down the field. The offense was perfectly balanced with a mix of runs and short passes. On the drive, he connected with A.J. Green for gains of eight and thirteen yards, Tyler Eifert for four yards, and Brandon LaFell for another thirteen.

Dalton ended the night throwing for 38 yards on 4-of-5 passing. This seems like a pretty typical stat line for a starting quarterback, Week 1 of the preseason. However, the problem for Dalton was the one pass that wasn’t complete. With the Bengals on the Tampa Bay 5-yard line, Dalton attempted a pass to Brandon LaFell in the end zone. The pass was undercut by Vernon Hargreaves who made the interception. The promising drive was stalled dead in its tracks.

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Even though it’s only preseason, this was the last thing fans wanted to see from Dalton. One could make the case that he still has to shake off the rust. It’s also possible that there was a miscommunication on the route. But, it looked like Hargreaves simply read Dalton all the way on the throw.

The lack of security in the red zone is certainly concerning going forward. To make matters worse AJ McCarron came in for the next series and put points on the board leading the team to a field goal. Even Jeff Driskel put up a better performance than Dalton posting a passer rating of 148.6 and scoring two touchdowns.

Should Dalton Be Benched?

There will undoubtedly be some people calling for McCarron to get a look as a potential starter in light of Dalton’s first possession. However, it is much too small of a sample size to make a decision at this time. It’s true that McCarron has shown that he is capable of wins, but the situation may be different if he started 16 games in a season. He hasn’t shown enough yet to anoint him as the future of the franchise.

Next: More On Bengals vs. Buccaneers

If this interception proves to be a trend more than an anomaly it will warrant a deeper look into the future of the quarterback position. For the time being, the team should stick with the guy who has taken them to the playoffs all but one year since he’s been in the Queen City. Nonetheless, it isn’t a good look for the beleaguered quarterback to start his 2017 season with a red zone turnover, even if it is just an exhibition game.

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