On Monday, NFL Insider Pat Kirwan reflected on six takeaways from Week 3. One of the six things are on Kirwan's mind was not rookie Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Instead, Kirwan considers the performances of sophomore quarterbacks (not named Cam Newton) the bigger story from last weekend.
It's amazing what some game experience, a solid offseason and lots of reps during the season can do for a young quarterback. Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder have all had the typical bumps and bruises that go along with being a young NFL starting QB but they also all won this weekend. As a group they were impressive. The four youngsters completed 79 passes in 125 attempts for 1,060 yards with eight TDs, one INT and three sacks.
There's no question Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton came away from Week 3 with an impressive performance. Dalton completed 19 of 27 passes in the Bengals win over the Redskins. He finished the game with a career high quaterback rating of 132.9. He also experienced a career high 12.15 yards gained per pass attempt while spreading the ball around while assisting four different receivers with at least 56 yards for each of them.
Of the four quarterbacks that Kirwan is grouping, Andy Dalton accounted for almost 31 percent of the yardage. Dalton also had the highest quarterback rating and best completion percentage out of the sophomore quarterbacks in Week 3.
Speaking in general terms, however, all four quarterbacks drafted in 2011 have shown improvement over their rookie seasons.
There have been plenty of moments when fans have pronounced these guys busts. But now Jacksonville, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Minnesota fans have to be excited about their teams' futures with these bright young stars of the game.
Kirwan's comments are also very generalized here. There weren't any definitive moments in which Andy Dalton was ever considered a bust by any means. Blaine Gabbert has been an easy target for critics after his rookie season. Gabbert ended the 2011 season barely completing 50 percent of his passes, and had 12 touchdowns coupled with 11 interceptions. Christian Ponder was thrown into the fire with the Donovan Mcnabb experiment was quickly discarded in Minnesota, and Jake Locker is looking to play his first full NFL season after taking over starting quarterback duties from Matt Hasselbeck.
Andy Dalton, as Kirwan pointed out, has experienced plenty of growing pains along with the rest of last season's rookie class. Dalton appears to be on the fast track in his development, and he already has a taste of postseason. At any rate, it's always encouraging when an NFL insider takes his eyes off the shiny object and takes a minute to give praise where praise is due.