Is Andy Dalton a Super Bowl Away from the Hall of Fame?
By Logi Baker
Andy Dalton has had a solid career for the Bengals to this point, but is there a path to Canton for the “Red Rifle”? Even though it is far-fetched, the idea cannot be completely dismissed.
Let’s start with the obvious. For it to happen, Dalton must lead the Bengals to playoff wins, and likely a championship eventually. A key word in this unlikely, but not impossible scenario is lead. If the Super Bowl victory is attributed to a dominant running game or an elite defense, Dalton is never going to be in the Hall of Fame discussion. Given that the current NFL is a pass happy league that has tilted the rules to make it harder for truly dominant defenses to exist, it is logical to assume that a championship would have to include a significant performance from Dalton.
Next, let’s talk about the career numbers and if the 31 year old has the time remaining to pad the stat sheet enough to make a convincing Hall of Fame argument. Former Bengal Carson Palmer will go into Arizona’s Ring of Honor later this year. There is a massive difference between a team’s Ring of Honor and the Hall of Fame, but those debates can still give us a reference point.
Below is a tweet by Bengals writer Joe Goodberry responding to one of Palmer’s many critics with a list of career accomplishments.
Now ask yourself, with those numbers, had Carson Palmer won a Super Bowl, would his career warrant serious Hall of Fame consideration? There is not a clear-cut answer, but it would throw him into the Eli Manning/Joe Flacco realm of Hall of Fame discussions.
This is where the argument can be made that IF Dalton earns a Super Bowl, his career numbers will support a Hall of Fame candidacy. Let’s examine the pace that Dalton has set in his eight seasons, along with Manning, Flacco, and Palmer. Manning and Flacco are included as Dalton would likely need to be widely considered better than those two in any sort of debate like this.
(Data provided by Pro Football Reference)
Player QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Rate Int AY/A ANY/A Andy Dalton 68-50-2 2443 3921 62.3 28100 188 88.8 104 6.93 6.17 Joe Flacco 75-47-0 2479 4070 60.9 28322 162 84.7 102 6.63 5.81 Eli Manning 69-50-0 2291 3921 58.4 27579 185 82.1 129 6.50 5.86 Carson Palmer 50-56-0 2223 3545 62.7 25447 167 86.3 116 6.65 6.00
As the data shows, through their first eight seasons, Dalton compares favorably in most areas, particularly the touchdown pass department. It should also be noted that Dalton is the clear leader as a rusher amongst this group, adding 1138 yards and 18 scores on the ground. This nearly matches the other three combined. This part of the comparison has also been done using each quarterback’s most recent eight seasons. The numbers are slightly closer. but still similar.
Now, let’s project Dalton’s numbers forward to season 14 and see how his potential accomplishments compare to Palmer’s career.
(Estimation achieved by doubling current career stats & then subtracting both the 15’ & 16’ stats to eliminate outliers and achieve a 14 season projection.)
Record Pass yds TDs 4QC Playoffs Dalton 120-88-3 48744 333 35 8 Palmer 94-88-1 46247 294 22 4
All of this is based on the assumption that Dalton’s career will mostly resemble what it looked like during the Marvin Lewis era. The Lewis style was not conducive to an offense being aggressive. Thus, quarterback numbers were often not spectacular.
Dalton now has a young modern offensive mind at head coach for the first time. This should only help his numbers. If he gets the team back to the playoffs quickly, he is likely signing another long term deal in Cincinnati. Then, there is about a four year window for him to lead the team to the ultimate goal. if Dalton wins a championship, he solidifies himself as the greatest Bengals signal caller ever, with both the stats and accomplishments to surpass Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason.
It has been said by some that the Hall of Fame is a history book that should tell the story of the NFL. If the story can not be told without a player in it, they should be inducted. If Dalton wins a title and becomes the best Bengals quarterback ever, it becomes very difficult to leave him out of any NFL story.