Andy Dalton’s last chance to prove himself

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals have given Andy Dalton everything he needs to succeed this offseason. Will he get them back to the playoffs in 2018?

The first five years of quarterback Andy Dalton‘s career saw the Cincinnati Bengals go to the playoffs all five years. He was a former second-round draft pick out of TCU. The best thing a rookie quarterback can ever have is a rookie wide receiver that came into the league the same year. In the first five years, wide receiver A.J. Green has been Andy Dalton’s go-to receiver. This duo connected 45 times for touchdowns.

Dalton has had a fabulous career when it comes to the regular season. With all organizations, they want wins in the post-season. Andy Dalton helped get the Bengals to the playoffs for his first five years. When it comes to the playoffs, he becomes a different player.

In Dalton’s first five years in the regular season, he has had great numbers. He had 1,556 completions on 2,497 attempts for a 62.5 completion percentage. He also compiled 18,008 yards and 124 touchdowns. The veteran quarterback joined former superstar quarterback Peyton Manning as the only two quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 plus yards in each of their first five seasons.

During the playoffs, there are just a few stats that are appropriate when you think of Andy Dalton. His combined four playoff appearances Dalton has thrown for 873 yards, one touchdown, and six interceptions with a 55.7 completion percentage.

After the Bengals suffered one of the worst playoff losses in 2015 with Dalton being injured, the Bengals and Andy Dalton have not returned to the playoffs. There are a lot of factors that weigh in on the two unsuccessful trips to the playoffs. The Bengals have addressed every problem they had to make Dalton succeed again in 2018.

The biggest problem was that they had one of the worst offensive lines in the last two years against the run and protecting Andy Dalton did not work. The Bengals hired offensive coordinator Frank Pollack which was a successful offensive line coach from the Dallas Cowboys. He is coming in to reconstruct and produce a tremendous offensive line. The Bengals made a trade for left tackle Cordy Glenn which is one of the best offensive tackles in the game when healthy. They also added Billy Price, a center from Ohio State in the first-round of the draft this year. With Pollack’s success, he will give every other position on the offensive line competition for the job.

The other problem did not have a second receiver to accompany A.J. Green. Green needs help getting double teams drawn away from him. The Bengals are expecting second-year wide receiver John Ross to come back from a dreadful rookie season. They also drafted Florida State wide receiver Auden Tate in the seventh-round. He has the height and is a huge red zone threat. Cincinnati is hoping second-year running back Joe Mixon will become not only the running back we know he is but also another receiver from the backfield to help.

There are also factors directly attributed to Andy Dalton’s unsuccessful streak. Most of his throws are thrown to high for a lot of his receivers. A.J. Green is the only receiver that can come down with those balls on a consistent basis. His completion percentage last year was statistically his worst at 58.9%. He has trouble finding passing lanes when there isn’t any in the pocket. He has problems feeling the pressure on his backside. Andy struggles with the quarterback to offensive coordinator relations. When Hue Jackson left, there has been less trust in Dalton’s ability. Lazor is a new offensive coordinator, and his philosophy might not mix with Dalton’s style of play.

Here is the reason why Andy Dalton realistically has only one more year. He is a free agent by 2021, but after this season he will have no dead cap. This means if the Bengals want to move on from Dalton after this season, they will have no dead cap and save 16.2 million in cap space. The season after he will give us 17.1 million in cap space. More than likely with the success he had at the start of his career, he might be tradable. Dalton’s remaining contract is very favorable to the team that has his contract.

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With all these added tools and weapons the organization put into place, Andy has no excuses to perform to the level he once had. It will be his job throughout the next season but Mike Brown, the owner of the Bengals, gave them two years to get it right. This will include dumping Dalton’s salary if he doesn’t perform.