To say that Andy Dalton has hit the rookie wall is a nice way of saying that his play has drastically declined over the past several weeks. And by several, I mean 5-6. This is not a blip in the season, this is a rookie NFL quarterback wearing down, losing his accuracy, and looking unsettled in the pocket. Since the end of the 5-game winning streak that brought the team to 6-2, here are Dalton's QB ratings:
The Cleveland game aside (another performance statistically saved by some miraculous AJ Green play) those are not good numbers, even for a rookie. In his defense, he hasn't thrown TOO many interceptions, but over that stretch he is now dead even with 6 TD's to 6 INT's. And, most importantly, a 2-4 record. Again, not good numbers, even for a rookie.
So what am I saying? Well I'm not really saying anything. I am certainly not saying Andy Dalton is not the future QB of this team. But, whereas 4 or 5 weeks ago we were having arguments in the national media about how he was ROY over Cam Newton, now he is starting to look decidedly more Colt McCoy-ish. There was a very legitimate possibility going into this season that, with a disastrous year that most were expecting, the Bengals could still be in the market for their franchise QB at the top of the 2012 draft. That clearly is not the case anymore. But, do you feel as confident that Andy Dalton is the answer for the next 10 years as you were a month and a half ago? I wish I could say I was, but I'm not. It is all the more imperative now that he shows some pretty significant improvement next year. If, by chance, we have seen his ceiling and he is in line for a sophomore slump, we might be having Brady Quinn conversations in 12 months.