Our chances of winning rely almost entirely on the arm of Andy Dalton. He has a lot of weapons, but if he
does not control the ball the way we did in 2009, we have little chance of winning any game.
Things I like:
1. 60% completion percentage: I admit 60% completions may not translate into the regular season, but for optimism sake, I will assume it does. It's not great, 20th in the league last year, but it would have tied Sam Bradford who most belive had a successful rookie season and led St Louis to their best season in years.
2. 1 Sack: More importantly, Dalton had a very good sense of where the pressure was, when to get rid of the ball, and when to run. If we want to have a shot, we must gain positive yards on most plays and avoid negative plays. Sacks will kill us becuase we aren't going to gain a lot of yards per play.
3. 1 - 40 yard pass, 4 - 20 yard passes: The main concern with Dalton was arm strength. Of 16 players eligible for passing stats, he was tied for 2nd for passes 40 yards or longer, and tied for 6th with 4 passes of 20 yards or longer. Not great, but with AJ Green on the recieving end, its enough to keep safeties thinking about getting beat, which keeps the short game open. A successful deep atack isn't about long touchdowns, its about making the defense fear long touchdown passes. Dalton can do that.
Things I didn't like.
1. 3 INT: Last year, INT killed us, especially pick sixes. Dalton threw three in 60 passes which translates into 30 if he throws 600 passes (Palmer threw 586). That said, his interceptions decreased each game. If he throws picks we lose, plain and simpe, I don't think we are a comeback team this year.
2. 1 TD: We were 11th in the league in rush offense in the preseason. But we aren't going to getting rushing TD's unless opposing teams begin to fear our redzone passing game. I think our defense will be stout, but they can't win if we don't get some TDs.
After the Preseason I am more realistically optimistic than I was before. Dalton played well, and we improved each game. 3 of our first 4 opponents didn't look better in the preseason than we did, and I think we have more upside. Our defense was stout when given adequate field position. Our running game and short passing game looked good, our deep game was enough to keep defense guessing, and our punter and kicker looked great. We need to shore up our deep pass defense, but Michael Johnson, Rey Maualuga, Carlos Dunlop and Pat Sims look frightening up front, in a good way. If we keep sacks in the 20's and interceptions in the teens, we could be in the running for the play-offs.