2017 Bengals positional review: Quarterbacks


We take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback position group and how it can improve in 2018.

In this series of breaking down the Cincinnati Bengals position let’s start at Quarterback. The quarterback position was hampered and overshadowed by the inadequacies in the offensive line. Quarterback Andy Dalton was often ridiculed by fans in one of his most disappointing seasons as a pro. The question is was he really that bad? Or was the offensive line just that terrible to give him a fighting chance?

Stats alone over Dalton’s career reveal statistically he had his worst QBR of his career at 50.8. The least yards over the season with 3,320 and the least passing yards per game at 207.5. However, he was still productive throwing 25 Touchdowns which is tied for 3rd best in his career. Were these career lows in production stats the offensive line? Not entirely. Andy Dalton has always been a quarterback to not hold onto the ball for long.

He has not always been entirely accurate. However, last year he ranked 7th in pressure on quarterbacks with a QBR of 68.4. According to PFF, Dalton also ranked 10th in yards amongst QB’s throwing for 100.2 yards under pressure. He also scored 6 touchdowns in the Red Zone that ranked him 10th amongst QBs for Big Time Throw %. So despite the porous line, Andy Dalton was productive. Thus the reason the Bengals did not switch to backup quarterback A.J. McCarron towards the end of the season. Outside of Tom Brady, I don’t think there is a quarterback that could have thrived with that much pressure in a season.

Fans love to discuss how awful the offensive line was in 2017. It was bad! We lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. Staples of the line, right? Look at 2016, with those guys, Andy was on his back 41 times, 2 more than 2017. He also threw only 18 touchdowns, a career low. So as bad as the offensive line was in 2017, what happened in 2016?  

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What we can see is, yes, it has been quite a while since we have seen a formidable offensive line in Cincinnati. Keeping this simple, let’s compare what was really wrong. Offensive coordinators Jay Gruden and Hue Jackson from 2011-2015 helped the Bengals combine for a 50-26-1 record. Andy Dalton had 2 Pro Bowls, 5 straight trips to the playoffs, though going 0-5 in the postseason.

Now, 2016 and 2017, a whole year and 2 games of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. The Andy Dalton problems that we all rant about are not Andy Dalton problems. It’s coaching! In 2016, the Bengals went 6-9-1 and last year 7-9. No playoffs. We can only hope that Bill Lazor, now with a full offseason to implement his plan will boost Andy Dalton into a major rebound year!

How can the Bengals improve quarterback play in 2018?

What needs to improve in a potential Bill Lazor offense for Andy Dalton? First, he needs better protection. When Andy Dalton has time to throw the ball he can be a lights out quarterback in the league. Next, the offense has to get more creative. Gruden and Jackson had creativity in their play calling keeping the defense on their toes. Zampese’s offensive scheme was bland and predictable.

Finally, Andy Dalton has to live up to his contract and hype that head coach Marvin Lewis provides to the fans of Cincinnati. With all the moves the Bengals are making this offseason and the weapons all over the field for Dalton, he must become more accurate. He has to get the ball out quick even if the line is fixed. He must produce! In my opinion, this is a deal breaker year for Andy Dalton.

Are there draft prospects that can improve the quarterback position?

Finally, let’s discuss the draft and how it could lead to some improvement to the quarterback position for the Cincinnati Bengals. Heading into 2018, Andy Dalton has obviously been backed by the coaches as the starter. The Bengals brought in quarterback Matt Barkley, and they still have quarterback Jeff Driskel, though he is on IR.  

There isn’t a lot of talent to push Andy Dalton for the starting position. The Bengals could really look to find that in the draft. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is a quarterback to watch in this year’s draft. The way in which Jackson, and his mother, are handling his career it is starting to cause concern for some NFL teams. This could be a perfect chance to snag him in the 2nd round, or even move up to get him in the 2nd.

Jackson could be this year’s Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson but better. If Jackson doesn’t fall in the draft the Bengals could ironically look to the player Andy Dalton has been mentoring in Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. Rudolph’s senior year production, alone, (4,377 passing yards, 64 touchdowns, eight interceptions) for Oklahoma State should be worth the Bengals attention.  

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He has projected a 2-3 round selection. If he falls to 3, the Bengals should select him. It would lead to a potential starter more suitable to replace Dalton whether be injury or lack of production. Barkley and Driskel are not it. Therefore, it is pivotal that the Cincinnati Bengals move in the draft to not only get a quality Quarterback but a potential starter.