Comparing Andy Dalton's First Five Games To Carson Palmer

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 09: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the the Cincinnati Bengals sets for play against the Jacksonville Jaguars October 9, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bengals won 30 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Former first overall pick during the 2003 NFL Draft, Carson Palmer elected to sit out the season in a threatened retirement state, forcing the team to select TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. A quick disclaimer of things. The comparison between Palmer and Dalton is nothing more than vague curiosity on my part; in truth it has nothing to do anything, save for the fact that based on how events played out, it may have actually benefited the Bengals in more ways than one. Not only is Andy Dalton as much a leader in the huddle as any quarterback we've seen, he's helping the Bengals win games by putting the burdens on his shoulders and engineering wins. After Cincinnati's 30-20 win over Jacksonville, Dalton said:

"That's the one thing that this team does. We just need to put ourselves in position in the fourth quarter to win the game. We were able to do that. We didn't worry what happened early on in the game. We just took care of what we had to do and were able to get the win."

Through five games this year, the Bengals have unexpectedly won three games this year and an argument could be made for a 4-1 start; for the more bold, an undefeated 5-0 season. And of the two games they lost, Cincinnati fell short within a possession of winning those respective games. Additionally Cincinnati has come from behind on the shoulder of a rookie quarterback that shouldn't be this mature yet to disregard early mistakes, strong enough to lead the team with late wins.

That being said, Dalton's first five career NFL games are well ahead of Carson Palmer's rookie season virtually across the board.

Comparing both quarterback's first five career NFL games
  CMP ATT Pct. YRD TD INT Rating
Andy Dalton 93 157 59.2% 1,047 6 5 78.7
Carson Palmer 104 190 56.7% 1,023 4 8 59.6

The interesting point is that Palmer developed during his rookie year on the bench, watching Jon Kitna lead the Bengals to an 8-8 season. Due to circumstances over the offseason and during the NFL lockout, Dalton was forced to become the team's first rookie quarterback to start Cincinnati's first game of the year since Greg Cook in 1969.

The Bengals went 1-4 during Palmer's first five starts in 2004 with three losses by more than a touchdown. In fairness to Palmer in that regard, Cincinnati's defense was nowhere near the level of the 2011 squad, allowing Dalton to develop without being forced to score 30 points.

Now for those of us that ask how much better the Bengals would be with Carson Palmer at quarterback (and you know that those exist), let's compare Dalton's first five to Palmer's final five NFL games in his career when the Bengals finished the 2010 season winning two of their final five games.

Comparing Dalton's first five against Palmer's final five NFL games
  CMP ATT Pct. YRD TD INT Rating
Andy Dalton 93 157 59.2% 1,047 6 5 78.7
Carson Palmer 105 154 68.2% 1,210 7 5 93.3

In truth this is all meaningless; just a vague curiosity on my part, showing that Dalton's career is starting just as well as Palmer's did in 2004 with one exception: Cincinnati is 3-2 this year whereas the Bengals only won one of five during Palmer's first five. Not that it's a direct correlation based on the quarterback (we're not factoring defense, offensive play-calling, etc..), but it's interesting nonetheless.

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