After watching the Ravens game there is still a lot to like about Andy Dalton as the QB of the future for the Bengals but there are also some concerns and areas where he needs to develop and grow his game, especially if he is going to lead us to the promising land.
It's popular to talk about his his perceived lack of arm strength or his deep ball accuracy as being the main culprits holding him back from being able to take the next step. I disagree because I think it's the mental aspect of his game that he has to improve on and not the the physical aspect.
In 2011, Andy Dalton actually ranked in the top 10 in the league with the deep ball. Now a lot of that has to do with AJ Green being a stud but lets not forget he hit Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell on occassion as well. He's shown mutliple time he has the arm strength to over throw AJ, which suggest he definitely has the arm strength to get the ball there. In reality, it's important to remember the deep pass is a LOW percentage pass and if you hit on even 50% of them you are way ahead of the curve. A lot of times I think we just tend to over analyze his deep ball accuracy mainly because he came into the league with the perception of having a lack of arm strength and everytime he misses on this low percenage (deep) pass it's magnified and brings backs the concerns about his lack of arm strength, which really isn't an issue.
Ironically, the thing Andy Dalton has been praised for the most is the area where I see he needs to make the most impovement. It's his smarts and ability to read defenses and make the proper adjustments. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he isn't smart because I think he is but I also think he can become a much smarter and much better QB if he learns to get ALL his reads down.
Let me explain;
Right now Andy Dalton is fantastic at making pre-snap reads and getting on the same page with his #1 target, in fact he's so good at the pre-snap reads it has actually masked his inability to make proper post snap reads and progressions. If you watch him play enough (and it was really evident again last night) you will see that almost every time he drops back to pass he makes a decision who he is going to thow the ball to before he even snaps it. Watch the tape of last night. Everytime, he went to AJ he didn't even look at anyone else, everytime he went to Hawkins it was predetermined. Even when he targeted Binns and Gresham you could clearly see they were his predetermined targets. Gresham played poorly but one of the reasons he was so invisible was because (especially last night) Andy did a very poor job of even acknowledging his 2nd and 3rd options.
Too further prove my point that Andy has a track record predetermining who he is going target all you have to go back at look last year when AJ was hurt. Jerome was the #1 target and looked great and put up really good numbers. We all thought it was weird that Jerome put up great numbers when he was the #1 option but had a tendacy to disappear when was the 2nd and 3rd option. I still think Jerome had a tendacy to be inconsistent and that's why he disappeared but I also think one of the reasons our 2nd and 3rd options are not as big of a factor as we would like them to be is because Andy has not yet learned how to progress threw all his post snap reads and utilize all his 2nd and 3rd options on a consistemt basis.
As I said, he's a smart guy and he's still very young so I definitely think he can improve on this aspect of his game. The troubleing thing for me is because he's been so successful by just prodominantly making pre-snaps reads and not utilizing his post snap progressions, I don't know if they see this as problem that he really needs to address for our offense to become prolific. IMO, he will continue to be a middle of the pack QB until he improves on this aspect of his game. If he can improve on this aspect of his game I think he can be a top 10 QB, maybe even top 5 and I don't think I'm being unrealistic.