He is a good QB. He can run the offense. He can make good throws on the short & intermediate passes. He isn’t afraid to run if an opening exists. He can shred defenses when given ample time to throw. He is durable.
But And Dalton is who we thought he was:
He struggles under pressure (2nd most int’s vs the blitz this year), often shows little accuracy on the deep passes, and gives away the ball as frequently as the St Vincent DePaul Society gives away free meals.
Unfortunately, the situation that is the Bengals’ QB situation is not as simple as "replace Dalton", and here is why...
Dalton is not a bad QB.
Dalton is a good QB.
Dalton is not a great QB.
For the Bengals to upgrade at the QB position, they need to acquire a great QB. Otherwise they are just making a lateral change (replacing 1 good QB for another) which is change for the sake of change with no real improvement, or they are making a downgrade at the position (replacing a good QB for a bad QB).
And truth be told, it’s not that easy to just go out and upgrade on a good QB, because there aren’t that many great QB’s floating around.
As far as free agents, it’s rare that a franchise QB doesn’t get locked up by his team for the long term. It’s quite rare that a Drew Brees or Peyton Manning hit the free agent market. Most years hold a crop as lackluster as this year: Josh McCown, Matt Flynn, Josh Freeman, Michael Vick.
As far as the draft, this year is a QB-heavy draft but is also filled with a lot of QB-needy teams. By the time the Bengals select in the mid 20’s, you aren’t going to find a surefire great QB. You’ll find good prospects, but who have a small likelihood of being better than Dalton.
On average, about 1 QB will get drafted each year who is clearly better than Dalton currently is. And picking in the mid 20’s, the odds of selecting that one QB are exceedingly unlikely.
2013 – none
2012 – Luck, RG3
2011 – Newton
2010 – none
2009 – Stafford
2008 – Ryan
2007 – none
2006 – none
2005 – Rodgers
So if it is going to be very difficult to upgrade at the QB position, because of the difficulty in acquiring a great QB, how do we improve the QB position?
I’d suggest that we address the O-Line. If we can build a great O-Line, we can hopefully overcome Dalton’s deficiency in handling pressure, so that he can have the time he requires to connect his throws to his good cast of receiving targets (Green, Jones, Gresham, Gio, Eifert, Sanu, Hawkins).
The O-Line is adequate, but definitely not great. The LT is a free agent, the LG is aging, the C is a weak link, the RG is good but not great. There are definitely upgradable openings on the line.