CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 16: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass before the start of the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
"Bengals organization has reservations about Andy Dalton."
That's the headline at Pro Football Talk, reflecting recent comments made by NFL Films producer Greg Cosell. He told Yahoo! Sports:
"I think there’s a sense right now, for a lot of people, that Dalton’s on his way toward being a great quarterback," NFL Films producer Greg Cosell told Yahoo! Sports. "I can tell you that those in the Bengals’ organization have a few doubts as to what his true upside is. Because at the end of the day, while I think Dalton is a good player, I think — not I think, I know — that he’s got some arm strength limitations.
"And there’s some things that they’re not comfortable doing with him."
Evan Silva commented that the league "seemed to catch onto Dalton’s act about midway through his rookie year", but we're not sure. During the final eight games of the regular season, the Bengals beat the teams they were supposed to beat (Cleveland, St. Louis, Arizona) and lost to playoff teams where Dalton seemed to struggle -- one of those (first game against the Baltimore Ravens) without his leading receiver A.J. Green. During the team's final five regular season losses, Dalton completed 51.4 percent of his passes, averaging 219.8 yards passing with five touchdowns against five interceptions.
Even so the Bengals only lost one of the final five games in 2011 by more than a touchdown. And frankly speaking, statistics are meaningless in the grande scheme of things. It's the wins that judges quarterbacks; spoken from the ghostly voice of one of the game's legendary head coaches in Paul Brown.
Additionally we find it hard to place much criticism on Dalton's shoulders after the team produced one of the league's more mediocre rushing offenses with a No. 26 ranked 3.9 yard/rush average, a No. 2 receiver that struggled route running with brick hands and a rushing defense that completely collapsed in the final quarter of the season. Lest we also forget that Dalton didn't have an offseason with coaching help due to the NFL lockout.
He faced all of that and still earned a spot on the Pro Bowl roster as an alternate, reset franchise records, finished second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and as a rookie, led the Bengals to the playoffs.
This is no way suggests that anyone is complacent. Dalton has already shown some returns during the offseason, reportedly bulking up and adding a little touch on his go-route passes.
We get that it's May 21 so there has to be something to talk about. But sometimes people just go for the reach. And this was a reach by everyone involved.