A common theme on Bengals boards and even the comments for this site are questioning if Andy Dalton is the right QB for the Bengals moving forward. I have seen countless posts claiming if he fails to win playoff games this season then the Bengals should look to replace him.
In his first two seasons Dalton has done nothing less than get the Bengals to the playoffs. (Not something that was common before he was drafted). He also posts an incredible 4th quarter passer rating and has brought this team back in the 4th several times. Losing the last game of the season stinks, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It leaves fans remembering the missed deep ball or bad read and losing the momentum / game because of it.
Dalton deserves more time. Coming out of the draft I like to compare players to similar types of players that proved themselves in the NFL. I find myself comparing guys like A.J. Green to Larry Fitzgerald or Rey Maualuga to Patrick Willis. Sometimes the comparison works, sometimes it falls far short.
The QB I compared Dalton to had similar attributes coming out of college. Out of his combine he was given a grade of 6 1/2 with 9 being the top of the scale and 1 the bottom. His arm was rated a 6, or average. "He can thread the needle," the report said, "but usually goes with his primary receiver and forces the ball to him even when he's in a crowd. He's a gutty, gambling, cocky type. Doesn't have great tools but could eventually start."
This unnamed QB only tossed 23 passes in his rookie campaign. His second season finished with a 6-10 record. In his 3rd season it clicked. He finished the season at 13-3 and eventually beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl.
Andy Dalton is no Joe Montana. In his first to seasons however, he has out performed him.
This article is not meant to float the idea that Dalton could will be a four time Super Bowl winner or Hall of Famer. It is simply stating that after two successful campaigns leading an NFL team to the playoffs, Dalton deserves a little bit of a longer leash.
Like Montana, Dalton struggles with the deep ball. Or at least that is the perception. In his rookie season Dalton finished 10th for average yds per catch. Last season he finished above other strong armed quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Michael Vick, Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb.
It is great that as Bengals fans we are not satisfied with just making it to the playoffs. We all want to win. I just think lets cut the young QB that has done nothing but get us to the postseason every year a little slack this off-season. It took Montana 3 years to find his groove in the West Coast Offense, let's extend the same courtesy to Dalton.
Much of the information about Montana was found in this old SI article.