I must admit I have gone back and fourth on this issue several times.
Here's our delima
We obviously drafted Andy Dalton early in 2nd round to be our future franchise QB, however we also picked up a serviceable veteran QB to compete for the starting job this year. As it stands right now Andy is our starter but what if he falls flat on his face and does not perform well to start the season do we leave in him or do we bring in Bruce Gradkowski? At first, I definitely thought the answer was a resounding yes, we leave Andy in and let him take his lumps. However, the more I think about it, the less sure I am that this is the right thing to do. Bruce Gradkowski is by no stretch of the imagination an elite level QB in the NFL, however as I stated earlier he's a serviceable veteran QB who is use to the speed of the game and has shown the ability to compete and win games in the NFL (we've seen this first hand as Bengals fans), plus I don't think he's ever been surrounded with this much offensive talent. Our schedule this year starts out with 8 of our first 9 games being very winnable games and that's probably with just average QB play. If we are able to start out 8 and 1 or even 7 and 2 that puts us in a really good position to potentially make a playoff run this year!!
On one hand we don't want destroy the kids confidence if he starts to struggle and we bench him. However, on the other hand he is a grown man and as Herm Edwards once said "you play to win the game", so we should play the players that give us the best opportunity to win.
I think my feelings are that we should start out with AD, however if he struggles early we should make a quick move to BG. If after week 6 with BG we are not at least 500 or better we turn the reigns back over to AD for the remainder of season to see what we have in him. I don't think this would ruin AD's confidence and 10 games should give him enough NFL game experience to be ready for 2012 and us enough time to determine whether or not he's actually our man.
Having said all this, there is one last thing to consider. In next years draft there is Andrew Luck who many already consider to be the best QB prospect since John Elway If we play AD the whole year, and he sucks we will have at least given him a full season to play, if he's obviously not the answer we should be in prime position to land Andrew Luck. Remember we did not draft AD in the first round so it's not unreasonable to assume that if he doesn't perform well, we won't take another QB in first round next year, especially if we are in the position to land an Andrew Luck.
I will admit, I'm an eternal optimist and I think we actually have a realistic chance to win and even make the playoffs THIS YEAR , that's why I continue to go back and fourth with my stance on this matter. I'm curious to hear what other Bengal fans think; How long should the leash be for Andy Dalton this year, especially early in the season when the schedule is favorable???