SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks on October 30, 2011 at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Through the first half of the Bengals 2011 season, who deserves to be named as the team's MVP?
Josh Kirkendall: Truth be told, I've actually asked myself this question several times this week and I don't have a straight answer. Not sure if that's just the result of having the best definition of a "team" or if I'm just being fickle.
Cody Byers: I'm straining to come up with an answer, I just can't come up with one single player. It's the defense as a unit that's making plays. Every week it's a new player that steps up.
Jason Garrison: See, I think the answer is easy
Josh: Carlos Dunlap is a good one that comes to mind, he's crushing the team lead with 23 quarterback pressures and 9 quarterback hits. Andy Dalton is making great plays on third and fourth downs late in the game, putting the team in a position to win. Brian Leonard and Jermaine Gresham are making clutch receptions to convert pressure-cooker situations.
Cody: For me to consider someone an MVP, I think of what happens if that player were to sit out that week. And I'm not sure any one player has that impact.
Jason: Heading into the 2011 season with all the drama at the quarterback position with Palmer's status up in the air and his trade-me-or-else thing, I don't think the MVP can't go to anybody other than Dalton. He's overcome a lot and turned out to be a great leader and he gets the job done or at least puts the team in a position to win. The situation he came into was similar, not exactly the same, but similar to the one Matt Ryan came into in Atlanta in 2008 and he played really well. I'm excited for Bengals' future because of what Dalton's been able to pull off so far this season.
Josh: Good argument. But most would also argue that what's really helping this team explode past expectations isn't so much Dalton, it is the defense.
Cody: In certain games yes, Dalton showed the clutch gene. But I'm not sure I'd crown him MVP. But at a later part of the season, I may change my mind.
Josh: If you take Dalton out, are the Bengals dramatically affected by it? Happened against Cleveland and Bruce Gradkowski helped win the game, albiet thanks to an unprepared Browns defense.
Cody: Josh, would you call Dalton the same player he was week one though?
Josh: Not at all. Vastly improved. Fair point.
Jason: I don't think so either. He's dramatically improved
Josh: Something else to think on. Is Dalton relying too much on A.J. Green?
Jason: Even if he is, it's working more often than not. A.J. Green has been pretty beastly so far this season and due to the inconsistent play at the No.2 WR position, I think he has to rely on Green.
Josh: Defenses will adjust to that though. Of Dalton's 218 pass attempts, 26.6% are targeting Green. Simpson is obviously your number two receiver, but he has that cloud hanging over his head. And Gresham is hurt, who is actually the second-most targeted player before Cincinnati's win over Seattle.
Cody: When watching the game live, I'd say it seems like it's a fair amount of distribution between Green, Gresham and Caldwell.
Jason: Well, hopefully if defenses adjust and start doubling Green, Dalton can rely on another receiver like he does Green. But right now, I see no reason to stop throwing to Green because it's working.