Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB

The Bengals Are Crazy for Thinking Andy Dalton Is Their QB of the Future

Coach Marvin Lewis wants to lock him down with a new contract. But Cincinnati would be wise to wait and see

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·

ORLANDO — If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, then the Bengals are certifiable when it comes to quarterback Andy Dalton.

Forget what owner Mike Brown said earlier this week about Dalton, hinting that the team wasn’t yet sold on giving him a new contract. Coach Marvin Lewis comments at the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday leave no doubt that the Bengals are fully committed to keeping Dalton as their QB of the future. The only question is whether they get a contract extension done now, or whether they do a franchise tag/extension dance after next season. The bottom line is Dalton is Cincinnati’s guy, no question.

“Oh yeah,” Lewis said.

Why, exactly?

“Because he’s done what most people have never done,” Lewis explained. “He’s taken a team to the playoffs three years in a row, from a rookie on, and continues to ascend and get better.”

There is little question that Dalton has been good in the regular season, at times playing very well. The stats and the film study bear this out.

Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton. (Al Behrman/AP)
Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton. (Al Behrman/AP)

Dalton, 26, has started all 48 games since being a second-round pick in 2011, with a 30-18 record. The win total has increased by one each season. He’s improved from completing 58.1% of his passes as a rookie to being around 62% over the past two seasons. Dalton’s yardage and touchdowns have increased every season, but so have his interceptions. Dalton’s passer rating has gone from 80.4 as a rookie to 88.8 as a third-year pro.

But it must be pointed out that Dalton has played on supremely talented teams. He was not a rookie who was forced to make chicken salad out of chicken … well, you know.

This past season, the Bengals had a deep and forceful defense that ranked among the top five in yards and points allowed. They also forced 31 turnovers (tied for third in the NFL) to give Dalton extra possessions. On offense, Dalton had the pleasure of dropping back behind one of the league’s best pass-blocking units (second only to the quick-throwing Broncos in The MMQB’s final Pressure Points ratings), and he also threw to targets such as A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Maybe the Bengals lacked a solid running game (28th in yards per attempt), but not everybody’s the pre-salary cap Dallas Cowboys.

So, yes, Dalton did a good job of executing a talented offense on arguably one of the league’s best-stocked rosters in the regular season. But …

What about the postseason? The Bengals and Dalton are 0-3 in the playoffs while averaging of 11 points per game, including a 27-10 home loss to the Chargers in January.

“We lost the football game, and the quarterback gets the blame when you lose,” Lewis said of the most recent postseason loss. “But we didn’t cover people on third downs, we fumbled the football, Andy had a fumble. We didn’t protect Andy. So we as coaches have to do a better job. We all lost.”

This is where the disconnect occurs between the Bengals and the rest of the football-loving country. The Bengals go out of their way to make excuses for Dalton, firmly believing one win will serve as a breakthrough that will propel Dalton from being a solid starter to a very good one. It’s their opinion, and they’re entitled to it.

The rest of the country sees a quarterback who plays with zero confidence when the games matter most, and a QB who turned in not just bad postseason games but god-awful performances: three interceptions as a rookie against Houston (when he lost to backup T.J. Yates); a 46.7 completion percentage and a 44.7 rating in a 19-13 loss to Texans in which Dalton missed several opportunities to win the game in his second season; and then last season’s loss to the Chargers. After holding a 10-7 halftime lead, the Bengals punted, Dalton fumbled without being contacted, and then he threw interceptions on back-to-back drives.

With a résumé like that, most teams would wait for a quarterback to prove himself worthy of even a $15 million per year contract (the going rate for a top quarterback is $20 million). The importance of making sure you have the right guy at the most crucial position can’t be overstated. If Dalton suddenly takes the Bengals to the AFC Championship Game this year and it ends up costing Cincinnati a little more money next offseason, that beats the alternative of backing the wrong guy to be your franchise quarterback—just look at what happened when the Jets extended Mark Sanchez’s contract.

But the Bengals are all in on Dalton, even though he’s yet to have a respectable showing in a playoff game, let alone winning one.

The rest of the country sees a quarterback who plays with zero confidence when the games matter most, and a QB who turned in not just bad postseason games but god-awful performances.

“We feel like we have a great young player in Andy, we’re hopeful that we can get a deal done that works,” Lewis said. “And he can put it behind him, he can get back to focusing on football, he doesn’t have to go into the season and worry about this contract thing being one of the—I mean, every week someone’s going to ask him the question—and then it gets to there and then are you going to franchise him, all of the things that come into play later on. Let’s get it behind us, something that works for everyone, something that allows us to keep tackles in front of you, receivers on the outside, guys on the other side of the football, so it works for everyone.”

The Bengals want to make sure their prized flower, who has wilted when the pressure has been at its highest, continues to grow inside the coddled existence they’ve carved out for him. Dalton’s always been the starter and never had to worry about competition. Now, after Lewis’ comments, having to worry about a contract would bring too much stress to a player who plays a position where imperviousness to pressure is as vital as breathing. (The 2012 Ravens and Joe Flacco would disagree).

Meanwhile, the Bengals’ rivals in the AFC are quietly hoping that Cincinnati will fully invest in a player who has been the one impediment to it ascending to a Super Bowl contender with a roster dripping with talent.

Just don’t try to tell Lewis that.

“I’m tired of answering questions about Andy that don’t make any sense, you know what I mean?” Lewis said. “Andy’s done a fine job for us. We all want to be better and once he does that, all that rest will go away. But he’s compared to Drew Brees, compared with (Aaron) Rodgers and guys that didn’t get the chance to play until later on. They sat and they watched. We had to throw Andy in right away and I think he’s done a really good job and he will continue to get better, until he proves he won’t.”

If the Bengals extend Dalton now, when everyone outside Paul Brown Stadium has sizeable doubts about his ability to win in the postseason, he just might rise to the challenge and prove himself. But it could be way too late for a Bengals team that was ready to win big two years ago.

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139 comments
calmej
calmej

Everyone makes a mountain out of a mole hill. Everyone keeps reporting something until everyone believes it's true. He should definitely be paid. Look at Peyton's playoff record the first 4 years:

0-0

0-1

0-1

0-1

He didn't win a game until his 5th year in the league. I don't remember these stories about him.

Stop writing about a guy that does everything right. He will get there despite you trying to bring him down. Hard to believe everyone forgets about what he did for this team when he was drafted.

easymoney
easymoney

I think they are trying to get him on the cheap and Lewis is urging Dalton to take it. I would rather have him than any of the QBs in the draft, but not for 7 years @ $20M/year. How about 3 years @$10M/year?

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

again outside of carson palmer who quit on this team, lets look at who the bengals have had at qb, akili smith out and out disaster and he's the only one i can come up with, which shows how lousy there quarterbacks they've had.  plus also when they took dalton he was supposed to be a back-up and then the whole carson palmer situation came up

Joe88
Joe88

I love how the media can trash the Bengals for wanting to keep Dalton.  Who would replace him?  I'd rather be in the playoffs every year and lose than be looking at drafting Bortles, Manziel, or Bridgewater after going 2-14.  Many teams would love to have Dalton.  He needs to improve but a least he wins.

Truthoutsidethebox
Truthoutsidethebox

This is the dumbest article I've ever seen.


Eli Manning, 0 TDs, 4 turnovers his first post season game. THE WORST OPENING POST SEASON EVER.

Joe Flacco, 437 passing yards in THREE postseason games, where he posted an 18.2 rating in the AFC championship his rookie year, following it up with a QB rating of TEN (10) against the Patriots in a victory..........Let me repeat that.......

Joe Flacco, won a post season game, with a QB rating.......of TEN (10).

The only difference between choker and clutch, is one game. All those QBs needed was more chances, just like Dalton.


The Bengals let 196 rushing yards go by this year against the Chargers. Why is nobody talking about this? That is just pathetic. Against the Texans? 158 yards last year, 188 his rookie year. That's 542 rushing yards in three games on over FIVE YARDS PER CARRY. Again, PA-thetic!!!


It's just a freaking miracle that they hint Dalton's non-existent running game at all, but this is it? "Maybe the Bengals lacked a solid running game (28th in yards per attempt)" MAYBE? MAYBE? Are you serious? Andy Dalton has yet to have an AVERAGE running game his entire career, all three years he's had his leading rusher has been under 4 yards per carry. And BGE rushing for 3.4 yards per carry, requires some conversation...


Green-Ellis has no speed, no moves, no strength, no vision, no blocking, no hands, NOTHING. The only good runs he has had is if there is absolutely perfect blocking in the assigned hole.

Do you know who else could do that? His name is EVERY SINGLE NFL RUNNING BACK IN THE LAST 50 YEARS. BGE runs a 4.6.........a four......fu*king......six.......Meaning, Vincent Rey, our undrafted LB gem, is faster than our starting running back.

And Dalton has to work with........THAT....


Also, guess who set the NFL record for most passes attempted in his first three post season games in three different years?

Tom Brady? Nope.

Either of the Manning brothers? Nope.

Marino? Nope.

Montana? Nope.


Yup, you guessed it, Dalton. Andy Dalton has thrown more times in his first three years of post season games that ANY QB in NFL history.

Andy Dalton has been asked to do more than any other young QB.

Do you think Dalton would keep his job if he threw for barely over 200 yards like Russell Wilson? No, but Wilson has Beast Mode and Dalton has.........the Law Firm.....

How about only 21 TDs and UNDER 200 yards/game like Kaepernick? No, but he has The Inconvenient Truth.

Maybe Cam Newton who has been asked to do less every single year he's been in the league, 2011 - 517 attempts, 2012 - 485 attempts, 2013 - 473.

Where as Dalton, has been asked to do more each and every year, including a 58 attempt increase this year.


With all those attempts, the question has to be asked.....WHY?

Dalton is not an average QB, he's not a good QB, not a bust or a hall of famer, he's a great QB. If you can't win with Dalton, you don't deserve to run an offense (Jay Gruden).

Jay Gruden will destroy RG3's career, just you wait.


Back on topic, WHY, WHY is Dalton asked to throw that many times? Why does NOBODY have the burden to help him? He has yet to get even adequate help from his running backs all three playoff games, nobody will even dare speak of that.


His running back even fumbled inside the five and they STILL never talk about the team that's around Dalton.

Which, as this hack tried to spin in this article, somehow when from a team that people predicted 2-14 probably and 5 wins AT BEST, to all of a sudden a Superbowl Darkhorse littered with talent apparently when he took over his rookie year.


Lastly, it's 3 games. Period. It's just three games. No matter how bad or good you do in those three games, it's just three games.


Dalton is a young QB and this is a very, very young team. If you didn't fully expect them to lose against the Texans BOTH years, you never payed attention to football in your life, the fact that they got there is nothing but amazing. The Chargers, while I still bet them to lose, I would have not been surprised if they lost.

But that was agonizingly bad, AS A TEAM, they were pushed up and down the field. Dalton had pressure all day, the Chargers, who aren't known for their pass rush by ANY means, hurried Dalton 20 times before he achieved 30 attempts.

Which is about as good as a high school team's o-line, even on Dalton's lone TD pass, he was crushed the nano-second after he passed it.

Until the BENGALS can step up in the playoffs, ZERO blame goes to Dalton, it's fair, reasonable or smart to expect him to single handedly win playoff games.

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

Awful lot of Browns commenting now.... Usually means two things .... Its draft day coming up which is a very important day because it usually involves drafting a really good player in the draft or it means its the first week of the season before 1 o'clock hits and reality of another high draft pick season ahead comes smacking them in their faces

ChadCollins9
ChadCollins9

This is absolutely ridiculous.  Football is a TEAM sport.  Ben Roethlisberger "won" a ring with a 21.6 rating in a Super Bowl.  Trent Dilfer, Doug Williams,  Mark Rypien, Jim Mcmahon, Jeff Hostetler, and Brad Johnson all "have a ring".  Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and Warren Moon do not.  Its about your TEAM.  Dalton is a very good qb

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

Thoughts on cam newton and his accomplishmets compared to Dalton

Russell Baxter
Russell Baxter

As a Browns fan, I hope the Bungals give him a Flacco+ contract. Would lol every year watching him collapse while the team gets worse due to his contract. 

Hakim Haseesh
Hakim Haseesh

A lot of butt hurt in the comments section mainly from fair weather Bengals fans who did not exist 4 years ago LOLFAIL.  I would give the Bengals defense about 90% credit for their success.  Fact of the matter is if you take Green out of the game, Dalton is a mediocre QB at best.  Hope the Bengals give Dalton a Flacco type deal.

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

& this is why the Bengals are either a joke in Mike Brown's love of continuity (the DEFINITION of continuity himself), keeping Marvin Lewis in seeming perpetuity, no matter the mediocrity...or are to be admired as an anomaly? Tim Tebow won a playoff game in his 16th start, assembling an 80.6 rating for his 1st year, better than Dalton. But Tebow lost the guy who drafted him, while Dalton will NEVER lose the guy who drafted him, it seems. But one QB is a pariah, & one QB seemingly will get paid tens of millions. Strange bird, this NFL. Get that 16 million check from M.I.A yet?

wheels306
wheels306

Bravo Mr. Bedard! What all you haters haters have failed to gain from this article is that the Bengals D has been near the top throughout Dalton's tenure as QB. Trying to compare the Red Rocket to Manning and Romo's careers with their respective teams is like apples to oranges. Did Manning have a top 5 D to work with? Top half of the league even? And we know what a joke the Cowboys D is. Sanchez took the Jets to the AFC Championship in back to back years. There is your comparison in my opinion. Jets D was/is great and Sanchez road them. Jets didn't make it because of him but rather in spite of him. Same thing with Dalton and the Bengals except that Dalton has played so poorly in his 3 playoff starts that they managed to lose all 3. Now what to do about it? Bengals won't find a better option in FA - sorry Vick and Schaub! So I think they should take a flyer on a QB in this years draft to battle Campbell for the backup job this year. Say, for example, a guy like Carr if he slips in the draft to end of 1st round/2nd round. If the rookie looks good and proves himself in the film room then give him a chance next year when Dalton asks for his 15 mil/yr contract. If Dalton somehow steps up and again improves upon his regular season stats and wins a game or two in the playoffs then you can suck it up and pay him. Carr, or whoever they draft won't hurt the cap with their rookie pay scale and the Bengals are complete enough that they can give up the top pick on a QB and get a corner or whatever in later rounds. Just saying! Red Rocket's not a top half of the league QB and the Bengals roster is stacked.

charles.j
charles.j

Dalton's rookie season all the experts were predicting the Bengals would be lucky to win a game or two. And the Bengals made the playoffs albeit a loss to the Texans. Not bad for a rookie quarterback with  a strike shortened training camp and no real mentor.


Their has been steady improvement year over year…wins, yards,touchdowns, completion %, etc…


Writers should apply the same logic and thought process to their own careers as they do for athletes. In all his years as a journalist Mr Bedard is still basically a beat writer. Just saying… If you can be a professional athlete then take pot shots at them as a journalist. 

Ha_Hanson
Ha_Hanson

@Truthoutsidethebox  Really? Zero blame? So when they've won, the deserves none of the credit?  If that's the case, what good is he? Seems you could plug pretty much anyone in there and get the same result.

kevin104
kevin104

@Truthoutsidethebox  I didn't know player agents were allowed to post on these articles. That said, you state good points. Russell Wilson has had a lot of help to reach his 28-9 and Super Bowl victory, and maybe Dalton hasn't had as much help. However Dalton is not the leader Wilson is either. We'll see if paying him big money works out or not. 

AF Whigs
AF Whigs

@ChadCollins9 I agree 100%.  It's never all on one guy, whether he's the QB or not.  But how many NFL teams would like to be in the playoffs for three straight years?  As has been pointed out, there are plenty of QBs who have struggled in the post season.  Some eventually break through, some don't.  


But if Cinci replaces Dalton, who's to say that the new guy would be as successful?  What if they don't get to the playoffs?  Who looks like an idiot then?


To my mind, if he's done enough to get them to the post season three years in a row, then Cinci just needs to keep working with the guy.  Why give up so soon?  This is the problem with the NFL and QBs.  They get chewed up and spit out and all the blame is put on the QB, which is just ridiculous.  

The teams share plenty of blame in all of this, but they and the media continue to perpetuate this absurd fantasy that when it comes to assessing QBs, football is somehow not a team sport.

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

Seems like a hero getting that 0-1 playoff record.. maybe Dalton should've missed the playoffs his first two years(I know I know Bengals had such a talented team before Andy that they were given the forth pick as a gift from the commish

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

Yet the sad part Russell would be that you still live in beautiful Cleveland so its cool giving you a little joy from the south

Hakim Haseesh
Hakim Haseesh

@Russell Baxter  It would be a good fate for that fake fan base.  They are easily the worst fan base in the NFL outside of the Florida franchises. 

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

Drrrrrrrrrr ....if you take a superstar player off a team then people aren't as good...THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS... YOU KNOW GOOD TEAMS WIN CAUSE THEY HAVE GOOD PLAYERS AND NOT MEDIOCRE ONES RIGHT?

ChadCollins9
ChadCollins9

@wheels306 Im a 30 year Cowboys fan.  Romo is the 5th highest rated qb in NFL history yet people continue to say he sucks.  The had the 4th worst defense in league HISTORY last season.  Its good to know some people still understand the game

Truthoutsidethebox
Truthoutsidethebox

@Ha_Hanson @Truthoutsidethebox  

Wow, never said that.

Thanks for putting works in my mouth.

Let me make this clear.

Dalton's protection during the 2013 playoff game, was appallingly bad.

No QB in NFL history could have won that game with that kind of pressure.

They could have had Vick's speed with Peyton's arm and Montana's decision making, that hybrid QB still would have lost.


Dalton was hurried 29 times on 51 carries, I challenge you to find a game that is on par with that sh*t of a statistic.......Literally, a high school team could have done better.

Being 125~ pounds lighter, they still could have given a better fight than Dalton's offensive line did.

They misread every blitz, doubled up on the wrong side every time, were overaggressive on every chop and whiffed every block.

It was like they had a loan shark threatening every single one of them to lose that game or somebody would be killed.


Wilson can't even win a game without 2+ TOs from his defense and 80+ yards from Lynch.

You think he'd win with that kind of pressure? To have blocking fail on 66%+ of his drop backs? LOL

Truthoutsidethebox
Truthoutsidethebox

@kevin104 @Truthoutsidethebox  

"However Dalton is not the leader Wilson is either."

No, YOU can't make that call. YOU don't know how both of those players are viewed in those locker rooms and I'm pretty sure Dalton during his AFC player of the month was a better leader than Russell Wilson putting up 103 yards against the Saints.


There is no "maybe" to it, Dalton DOES NOT get the help Wilson, or any other young QB gets. Russell Wilson has a Superbowl ring, but who honestly couldn't win that game?

I'd put money on Brandon Weeden with that defensive performance.

Russell Baxter
Russell Baxter

@Hakim Haseesh Bengals can't even sell out playoff games without Kroger's bailing the city out, easily in the running for the Worst. I love that the Steelers fans are showing their true colors this past season as well, 84% attendance when 8-8. Great "fans" the yinzers have. LOL LOL LOL

Hakim Haseesh
Hakim Haseesh

@Nonfantasylandman  One player dumbass.  I can tell you have never played football. Any good QB would be able to get the ball to his other weapons.  Green is Dalton's security blanket, and if he can't get the ball to him on a streak he will be struggling ALLLL GAMMME.  Dalton/Green is pretty much a poor man's version of Schaub/Johnson.

Hakim Haseesh
Hakim Haseesh

@Nonfantasylandman  Oh, you mean the waiting list where chad johnson had to buy tickets to prevent a black out?  Or how about Kroger buying tickets to prevent a black out?  Hell, their playoff game against the jets was almost blacked out! LOL. Bengals fans are a joke.  It's a baseball town and that's about it.

Hakim Haseesh
Hakim Haseesh

@ChadCollins9 @wheels306  Jake delhomme, trent green, marc bulger, jeff garcia, and daunte culpepper are all in the top 50 ALL TIME of QB rating.  QB rating is such a flawed stat.  Just stop.

Ha_Hanson
Ha_Hanson

Who couldn't win? Dalton probably,; not based on his past playoff performances (and certainly not Wheeden LMAO).

Russell Wilson tied an NFL mark for touchdowns as a rookie.  His career QB rating is over 100.  Has he had a couple of poor games? Sure. He's mostly been consistent so far(reflected by his career QB rating).Has he choked in the playoffs? Nope. He's 4-1 and won the biggest game there is.  The difference is when Russell has a bad game, he hasn't turned into a turnover machine like Dalton has.

The Bengals were loaded on the defensive side.  While there secondary certainly wasn't as good as Seattle's, their DL is arguabley better.  They are a legitimate top 5 defense.

Dalton had far superior pass protection than Wilson; in fact probably the best in the league.  Only Denver's was statistically better, but that's only because Manning gets rid of the ball in 2.9 seconds on average. He is surrounded by talent on offense. Who would you rather throw to? A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham or Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Zach Miller (HOFer Chris Carter called them "pedestrian)?  Gio Bernard averaged 4.1 ypc; Marshawn Lynch averaged 4.2 ypc.

When Atlanta's offense ran over Seattle's defense last year in the divisional playoffs (much like SD did to Cin this year), Wilson responded by throwing 3 TD's and almost 400 yards.  Dalton responded by coughing it up 3 times - in the second half!

Dalton has been surrounded by talent, but statistically he's been middle of the pack in his career during the regular season, and outright horrible in the post season.  I have no clue why you would conclude he is a GREAT QB; he's been basically average while being on a very good team.  To handcuff the team by paying him $20m/yr is ludicrous.

Maybe Dalton may grow into one of the better QBs in the league, but while you made some good points, calling Dalton GREAT and trashing Wilson pretty much invalidates your general line of thinking...


Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

That makes no sense. Mike probably wants to win the super bowl. Sure if u check the Seahawks books they made a lot more money of winning a super bowl than going 8-8

Aaron44
Aaron44

@ChadCollins9 @Hakim Haseesh  If Dalton is a "very good QB", what are the 15 QBs that are better than him? He is a "median" QB. Mediocre, by definition, relative to the league.  Sometimes that is enough to win a SB, but you generally need to have a '99 Ravens defense to make that hold up.


Mike Brown just wants a 7-9 to 10-6 team every year so he can keep the county commissioners off his back and "save" salary cap. Dalton is an appropriate QB for that goal.

Wombat
Wombat

@Russell Baxter @Nonfantasylandman  Things to remember Russel my friend...


1. We never had an owner leave to start another franchise that's BETTER than the one he left...

2. We've never had our team leave in the middle of the night

3. We've never had our river catch fire


Cinci isn't always the best but at least we aren't Cleveland.

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

I do hope you get to enjoy Cleveland browns fans two favorite days of the year... The draft and opening day Sunday before 1o'clock hits

Hakim Haseesh
Hakim Haseesh

@Russell Baxter Oh don't worry, they now have the pirates so they can pretend to be super pirates fans all along.  Just like they have always been great pens fans... except the time their golden boy Mario Lemiuex was going to move the team, because no one showed up to their arena.  LOLFAIL.  Obviously yinzer fail is obvious.

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

Check out Marvin Jones stats there playa... Seems that he knows how to spread the ball around

ChadCollins9
ChadCollins9

@Hakim HaseeshReally?  So that means they were terrible qbs then?  Those are good qbs you listed who had incredible years.  Im gonna guess you are under 30 years old?  

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