With Mike Brown's comments that Andy Dalton's negotiation is taking first position this offseason, to the point that nothing else will happen until Dalton is resolved one way or another, a collective sigh reverberated throughout the queen city. A quality (and yes, proven) regular season quarterback that self-destructs in the postseason articulates a five-second summary regarding Dalton. However, common sense suggests that Cincinnati eventually extend Dalton... only if he submits a postseason win in 2014.
Peter King with Sports Illustrated nails the perspective on his recent Monday Morning Quarterback posting.
I think I would have the same dilemma right now that Bengals owner Mike Brown verbalized at the league meetings on Sunday: do you step out on a ledge now and pay Andy Dalton the going rate for a good quarterback—say, $15-million a year—with a year left on his rookie contract, or do you let the deal run out and risk losing him in 2015?
Dalton has been a good and durable player in the regular season: 48 games, 48 starts, 30-18 record, 85.7 rating and a plus-31 TD-to-interception rate. And he is the only quarterback in Cincinnati history to lead his team to the playoffs in three straight years. But he’s been awful in the playoffs (0-3, 56.2 rating, minus-5 TD-to-pick rate), losing his three playoff games by an average of 14.7 points. To say he’s looked rattled in the postseason would be an understatement, as his meltdown against San Diego in January illustrated.
As Brown said to the Cincinnati Enquirer and Bengals.com: "When you go forward in this league it is not clear which is the better way to go. Do you have a high-priced quarterback and less elsewhere, or do you try to have as many guys as you can have and maybe a quarterback that is young and not so highly paid? Seattle, for example of that. In fact, you look at the statistics and it is rather surprising how few quarterbacks that are old in recent years—saying over 30—have won the Super Bowl. They’ve gotten there but they haven’t won it. Is that a better formula, to go with a younger guy and spread the money around? That’s a dilemma for us. We are trying to work through it. It’s slow going. I can’t predict when we are going to get that matter resolved."
Do you show faith in Dalton, or do you collect more evidence?
2. I think I know which way I’d vote. I’d want to see one more season of proof out of Dalton before paying him close to Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler money. If he leads Cincinnati deep into the playoffs this year and it costs me a few million extra, so be it. But what I’ve seen so far doesn’t convince me he should be paid $15 million a year. If you’re going to cast your lot with a young quarterback, he has to be the man you believe will lead you to a Super Bowl. Watching Dalton, I like what I see, and I’ve liked his toughness in winning some big games. But he hasn’t shown me yet that he’s a January quarterback.
In three postseason games, Dalton has thrown six interceptions and only one touchdown, while losing a fumble on a non-contact play. The resulting turnover led to a San Diego field goal with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter, extending their lead 17-10. On the ensuing two possessions, Dalton threw interceptions that, thanks to the defense, had a limited impact and only three additional points.
Unfortunately, the Bengals didn't score anymore points, converted only one of eight third down opportunities and, eventually, a stifling Cincinnati defense allowed a 58-yard Ronnie Brown touchdown to win the game 27-10.
This isn't about whether you like Dalton or not -- Cincinnati doesn't really care about your preference. Nor is this about whether Dalton is a good quarterback or not -- he's doing a lot of things that no Bengals quarterback has done. This is about one thing. Winning a playoff game. Grab that victory and the world re-aligns.