With the Cincinnati Bengals set to finish a dismal season Sunday and have the top overall draft pick, it very likely marks the end of the Andy Dalton era.
Andy Dalton has been the Bengals starting quarterback for the vast majority of the time since he entered the league prior to the 2011 season. No one can say he didn’t deliver a lot of good things for a franchise that can’t hang its hat on many.
Dalton and then fellow rookie A.J. Green surprised just about everyone by leading the team to the playoffs in 2011. He did the same in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2015, Dalton led the team to a 10-2 start before missing the rest of the season, including the playoff loss due to injury.
On the surface, being a key part of five playoff appearances, a 69-61-2 record with one game to go as the starter, and becoming the all-time franchise leader in touchdown passes is a great run with one team. It should also be noted that Dalton has given his time and resources to countless charitable efforts in the Cincinnati community.
Everything above is great stuff. However, historically speaking, Dalton’s time in Cincinnati will be remembered for what he could not do. Going winless in four playoff games with one touchdown pass and six interceptions is tough to get past, as is a 57.8 quarterback rating.
Yes, football is a team game, but great quarterbacks elevate their teammates when they have to. Dalton never did that. Simply put, he never made the biggest plays in the biggest games. Kirk Cousins proved there is a market for guys like that. There will be one for Dalton too.
When you take everything in to account, complicated is the only word that adequately sums up Dalton’s time in Cincinnati. Is the franchise better off for him having come along? Absolutely. Is it time to move on? Absolutely. The top draft pick represents the perfect chance for both parties to do just that.