Should Andy Dalton get the blame for Bengals 0-3 start?

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the second quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the second quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Quarterback Andy Dalton has had his share of early problems. But, is he the sole blame for the 0-3 record of the Cincinnati Bengals?

When it comes to placing blame, making a blanket statement is one of the easiest ways to get an answer. But, taking a deeper look is often the better option. Though it can lead to more division and oftentimes false positives, it’s a necessary evil for getting to the point. Andy Dalton has been sub-par–to say the least–in his early performances. But, is it fair to say he’s the main cause of the Bengals losing record? It’s tempting to say his erratic play is the problem. But, honestly, there’s enough blame to spread around.

There was an inkling of a larger problem, during the preseason. When Dalton didn’t look as crisp as he had been in the past, the red flags should have been hoisted. But, that’s the nature of the game. Just because Dalton was a bit off, that didn’t denote he would have a horrendous start to the season. Yet, in many ways, the four meaningless games played in August can reveal some problems.

Thinking Like Them

Before all blame can be heaped on Dalton’s shoulders, the scenario is stacked against him. Since Dalton has been in Stripes, he’s been under the tutelage of four offensive coordinators. Honestly, most average Joe’s, working a 9-to-5, don’t like new supervisors or bosses popping up. There’s always a new, quirky attitude to deal with or a certain way they like things done. Bill Lazor, the current OC, is no different. 

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"“With Andy, he had to now say, ‘When Bill calls this, this is what he’s looking for.’ Sometimes it might be a little different than a different guy wanted,” Lazor explains. “Just the thought process, how you get him to be decisive. So I think that was a challenge for both of us. Just like with the whole offense, I had to decide with Andy how much do you change?  If you have a list of three things or eight things or however much that maybe you want to change, how much does it really make sense in one week. It was a challenge, and it still will be.”"

It’s a process that resembles brainwashing. In other words. Dalton is in a Manchurian Candidate phase. To break it down further, his thought process is being shifted from one learned behavior to another.

What he’s learned under, Jay Gruden, Hue Jackson and Ken Zampese is now being filtered. He suddenly has to see things through the mindset of Lazor. Dalton will still be able to use the cheat sheet from the other OC’s. But, it’s now about messing with the new doctor of offense.

Spread The Wealth, er, Blame

When Dalton tossed four interceptions against the Ravens, it was a given he would be the immediate scapegoat. But, what about the running game? Why wasn’t Joe Mixon featured more? Giovani Bernard was explosive in the opener. As the hot back, he could have been handed the rock more often. Gio also had one reception for 39 yards. That’s a clear-cut case of not recognizing how to get the ball to the right player.

Against Houston in primetime, it was apparent Dalton was over-thinking. He was hesitant and indecisive in his throws. That resulted in overthrows and passes behind receivers.

Next: Just One RB?

The fast pace and simplified game plan of Green Bay are what Bengals fans will see more often. As the year rolls on, Lazor will tinker with packages and get the best results from a more confident Dalton. If the same problems persist and Andy doesn’t return to his 2015 form, then there’s more cause for concern.

Additionally, if The Ginger can repeat his Week 3 performance and toss in three or more TDs, this offense will be fine.

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