Most, if not all, of the posts on CJ are very optimistic about bringing Andy Dalton on board. He seems to be rated anywhere from “at least as good as Carson” to “the next coming of Ken Anderson”. Most of the arguments for Dalton tend to rely on the facts that he won his senior season and put up decent #’s against a weak D1 college football conference and led his team to an upset win over an overrated Wisconsin....therefore he is the future of Cincinnati football. While I am less optimistic of his potential success, and see him as a little better than a career journeyman, who will have a worse pro career than Tim Tebow (who many people on this site think is a terrible QB), what I really want to look at is what to expect from the Bengals in 2011.
While Dalton seems to be in line to be the starter, the fact remains that regardless of who starts (Dalton, Palmer Jr, some free agent signee), they will have a new starting QB in 2011. So how do the Bengals fare when they break in a new QB? Is starting a new QB with little time to prepare (assuming a CBA is agreed upon) trying to learn a new offense a recipe for success? (I used whichever QB was their passing leader for the season as their ‘starter’)
In the era since their last Super Bowl run, or the post-Boomer era, the Bengals have broken in 6 different starting QB’s. Boomer Esiason was the QB up until 1992, when the Bengals posted a disappointing 5-11 record. It was time for change, and the rotation of 4 new QB’s in 8 seasons was underway...
1993 David Klingler
The first of the post-Boomer QB’s had a proficiency for throwing INT’s in college and brought that skill with him to the NFL. The Bengals fell to a very pathetic 3-13 record in his first season.
1994 Jeff Blake
After Klingler’s one disappointing season as the starter, he was quickly replaced by Jeff Blake. Jeff Blake to Carl Pickens became a popular connection in Cincinnati over 5 of the next 6 seasons, but in his first campaign, Blake led the Bengals to an equally pathetic 3-13 record.
1998 Neil O’Donnell
Neil O’Donnell stepped in for Jeff Blake for 1 season in 1998 and actually posted a respectable 15:4 TD to INT ratio over 11 starts. Unfortunately for Neil and the Bengals, the bad run of poor records with new QB’s continued and the 1998 Bengals also posted a pathetic 3-13 record.
2000 Akili Smith
I think all I should have to say is “Akili Smith” and the point would be made. But I’ll continue... Most people who were not brain dead in April of 1999 considered the pick of Akili Smith to be a terrible one. Turns out they were right. Passing on Edgerrin James, Torry Holt, Daunte Culpepper, Damien Woody, Javon Kearse, Antoine Winfield, Donald Driver and not to mention the whole Saints draft turned out to be another drafting disaster for the Bengals. Smith started 11 games in 2000, posting an incredible (in the bad sense) 3 TD’s over those 11 starts. He managed to throw 1 TD for every 12 times he was sacked – ouch. In the end, the Akili experiment thankfully ended as quickly as it had begun, and the Bengals ended 2000 with a 4-12 record.
2004 Carson Palmer
This is the one outlier in the group. The Bengals managed to put a short-lived collection of decent players together and in 2004 they completed their second straight 8-8 season.
2008 Ryan Fitzpatrick
The magic of 2005 had quickly faded with 8-8 and 7-9 records in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 Carson Palmer went down after a terrible start to the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick became the sixth post-Boomer QB to start most of the season and led the Bengals to a very bad 4-11-1 record.
So looking at the 6 seasons of new QB’s, the Bengals have posted:
In the post-Boomer seasons where the Bengals had to break in a new QB they have a record of 25-70 (26%).
In the post Boomer seasons where they do not have to break in a new QB they are 76-100 (43%)
In 2011 the Bengals are breaking in a new QB, so their record will be.....bad.