I came up with the idea to start tracking Andy Dalton's rookie season vs. Sam Bradford and Peyton Manning's rookie seasons while replying to one of the post game posts. I picked Manning and Bradford as those are 2 of the last quarterbacks I remember that got drafted to bad teams and were expected to start and succeed (to a point) from day 1.
I feel like Andy Dalton is doing an amazing job and I wanted to see if the numbers back me up. I will continue to update this throughout the season.
Peyton Manning came into the league drafted #1 overall to a hapless Colts team. Manning was thought of as one of the most complete QB's to ever come out of college. These are Manning's stats through the first 6 games of his rookie campaign.
QB Rating: 55.7
Sam Bradford was also drafted #1 overall to a team that had left it's glory days back at the turn of the century. Bradford was praised for his great footwork and accuracy, as well as good pocket presence. Many analysts said he might be the most sure-fire prospect since Peyton Manning. These are Bradford's stats through the first 6 games of his rookie campaign.
QB Rating 69.3
Andy Dalton is the guy in this comparison that doesn't fit the mold. Unlike the other 2, he was drafted 33 spots later at #34 overall. The second round isn't very kind to starting QB's but Dalton seems to be following the Drew Brees mold. Dalton was praised for his passion and accuracy, but there were concerns of his arm strength and level of competition. These are Dalton's stats over the first 6 weeks of his rookie campaign.
QB Rating: 84.3
Overall leaders in stats:
Yards, YPG: Peyton Manning (1,364) (227.3)
TD's: Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton (7)
INT's:Andy Dalton (5)
Y/A: Andy Dalton (6.9)
Completion Percentage: Andy Dalton (62.4%)
QB Rating: Andy Dalton (84.3)
Completions: Sam Bradford (133)
Attempts: Sam Bradford (234)
Y/C: Peyton Manning 12.1
So what do these numbers all mean? Well stat's don't lie, Dalton is having a fantastic rookie season and compares favorably to both Manning and Bradford. Despite having fewer attempts, Dalton is only 53 yards behind Peyton Manning. Dalton is being very efficient and his yards per completion is right in between Manning and Bradford, and he wins the most categories (4) vs Bradford (3) and Manning (2) through week 6.
Now being so early in the season, one bad game could put Dalton in the rear of this pack very quickly, but through week 6, Dalton is playing better rookie ball (by the numbers) than Peyton Manning and Sam Bradford and that deserves a WHO-DEY.
Edit: i'm not trying to say that Dalton is already better than Manning or Bradford. I'm just putting the numbers out there and saying that looking squarely at empirical data, Dalton is out performing them through 6 games. That's all.
Edit #2: Added Attempts, Completions, and Yards per Completion per request