Andy Dalton has a low ceiling.
Let me make this clear, I 100% support Andy Dalton as the quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. With that being said, I think it is necessary to put Dalton’s year into perspective and perhaps decrease some of the hype surrounding his future. For Dalton and the Bengals, having a low ceiling is not a bad thing. It just means that Dalton will never be an elite passer. He may have good numbers and low turnovers, but he will never be on the same level as Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers. I consider Andy Dalton to more like a Joe Flacco or a Matt Ryan.
First off, Dalton does not have a great arm. He’s thrown some decent deep balls this year (Seattle for example) but most of the time AJ Green’s vertical leap and excellent timing have bailed Dalton out for underthrowing deep passes. Secondly, Dalton has not been truly “challenged” this season. By “challenged” I mean that the offense has been relatively simplified by Jay Gruden to facilitate Dalton’s success. Many of Dalton’s reads are quick one receiver reads or three step drops. Often times the ball is out of Dalton’s hands in three seconds or less. If Cincinnati moves on without Cedric Benson this season, the running game may be a question mark going into training camp. We don’t yet have enough evidence to show that Dalton can carry the Bengals with the passing game, when the running game is a non-factor (playoff game for example). In addition, Dalton is an undersized quarterback. This is not an extremely important factor, but having an undersized quarterback can result in many bat downs or tipped passes at the line of scrimmage. We have certainly seen this many times this season (JJ Watt anybody?).
Certainly, Jay Gruden will open up the offense to Andy Dalton more so next season after Dalton gets a full NFL offseason under his belt. But don’t expect an extreme improvement, Dalton hasn’t shown the natural gifts and big play ability that fellow rookie Cam Newton has. Lord knows what that man will be able to do with a real offseason.
Personally, I think Dalton having a low ceiling is a good thing for the Bengals. More important than all statistics or physical ability, Andy Dalton is a proven winner. I’d much rather have a winner as my quarterback than a fantasy superstar. The most important thing for Andy Dalton and the Bengals is that Dalton continues to take care of the football. This young stellar defense will keep the Bengals in almost every game for the foreseeable future. As long as Dalton doesn’t turn the ball over, he will be able to lead the Bengals offense to enough points for many more victories to come. After all, he finished the season without a single turnover in the red zone. If the Red Rifle can have success in the Red Zone, the Bengals may soon be heading to their first Super Bowl in 22 years. After all, who really cares about statistics anyways?