Week 1 is finally the focus of the Cincinnati Bengals. This season, Andy Dalton will be asked to prove he’s the one to revive the playoff atmosphere.
With the 2017 preseason in the books, it’s time to focus on the real deal. The Bengals are blessed with a home opener and Paul Brown Stadium will be rocking. Well, that’s what most Bengals fans would love to believe. But, is it really that time? Can Andy Dalton get the Bengals back to the postseason and erase the heartaches of years past?
If you’re a stone cold Cincinnati homer (like me), the answer is a resounding yes. However, there’s still that small pocket of fans who believe AJ McCarron is the real savior of this Bengals team. The preseason is a distant memory. But, the performances of both quarterbacks speaks volumes about their mindset.
Since the hoopla still burns about McCarron, let’s take a quick look at his last preseason dance. He was able to go 20-of-30 for 216 yards and a rating of 87.6. Not bad, considering he was starting against mostly youngsters trying to make an NFL roster.
Now, let’s play Devil’s advocate, courtesy of the Football Database. AJ finished the four game stint at 40-of-66 for 440 yards and a 60.6 completion ratio.Okay, here we go. Take away that last game against the Colts and McCarron falls to a lackluster 20-of-36. His completion ratio plummets to 55.6 percent. He got a huge boost from Jeff Driskel getting hurt. Man, quarterbacks keep getting hurt around this guy. His rating also slips to 51.2.
The Dalton Factor
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Some fans may not have the respect for Dalton that they should. But, the fact remains…he’s the franchise quarterback. Deal with it. The Bengals have been stacked to make his job easier and, hopefully, Dalton will be able to capitalize on the windfall.
Dalton’s preseason tally was a bit steadier than his backup’s. Prior to his last start against the Redskins, Dalton’s completion percentage was 61.1. After he led the Bengals to their first opening drive TD, he finished 19-of-31 and posted a 61.3 completion ratio. It may not seem like much of a difference to Dalton haters, but it shows consistency.
Let It Go
If you follow the Bengals, the one thing Dalton gets ragged about is being inconsistent. His lone interception of the preseason came on the last play of a time-consuming drive. The red zone faux pas had fans thinking about the Bad Andy of years past. However, there seems to be a maturity about Dalton that will carry over from the past two seasons. Contrary to what most Dalton bashers want to believe, his numbers back the fact he should be the starter. McCarron’s body of work is lacking at best.
With that said, Bengals fans should be ready to give him the support he deserves. The 2017 wide receiver corps will be one of the best he’s had since being drafted in 2011. Not only will Dalton be expected to spread the ball to all of his weapons, he’ll have the weight of making the playoffs again.
What’s The Point?
This is a transitional year. In short, Dalton will be expected to bring the Bengals back from a 6-9-1 disaster to the playoffs again. With the snake bitten atmosphere that surrounds this team, that’s not an easy chore.
He’ll be held accountable for the offense, getting the red zone problems in check and making it look easy in the process. Year number two under Ken Zampese should give him a bit more cushion. But, anything can go wrong on any Sunday.
Sometimes, it’s best to count your blessings and be content. But, Andy? He has a point to prove.