Andy Dalton, Is he a franchise Quarterback?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The debate lives on. ESPN takes a look at how Dalton ranks with his QBR over the first 16 games of his career compared to all other QB's that have started since the 2006 season.

In a recent piece by ESPN's Mike Sando, "crossroads" quarterbacks were the focus and where there is quarterback discussion, you know the Bengals Andy Dalton will be in the mix.

The meat of the article begins with if teams can tell what to expect from a QB's career from how that QB plays right away. With data collected over the past 8 years, some believe there is a way to provide a lens into a guys career from his play in the first season.

Six time NFL executive of the year, Bill Polian says : "The QBs who do well ultimately, do well as rookies or in their first season of starting -- they show you, If they are not above a certain threshold after their first 16 games, the odds are pretty good that they will not be a franchise quarterback. The odds are even stronger that they will wash out completely.

Sando takes the QBR metric over a quarterbacks first 16 starts and uses it as a guide to predict how well a QB will do in his career. The guys with the highest QBR in their first 16 starts look to be guys that will be successful NFL quarterbacks:

The bottom is filled with guys who will not be panning out:

Then there is the middle group where Dalton falls. He was pulled out and evaluated by Polian and ESPN scout Matt Williamson. They highlight how he has played good enough to get a good team to the playoffs but not good enough for the Bengals to pull the trigger on an 18 million dollar a year extension.

"I think he is what he is, and he will never change," ESPN scout Matt Williamson said. "He will be too good to cut and not good enough to win with. He wins three or four [games] a year for his team and loses one or two, but he is so much less gifted than all the others guys we are talking about here. Maybe if he was playing indoors, he could get away with it more."

An unnamed head coach who was interviewed for the piece liked the research but also thought that a strong running game can help an average quarterback be great. A teams commitment to the ground game can create a successful player and a lack of running offense and contribute to an unsuccessful player. This coach may not have had the Bengals in mind when he stated this, but this is the case with the Bengals and Dalton.

"Dalton is a hard, hard, hard guy to read," one NFL general manager said. "He plays really well and really badly. It is surprising. He is not dumb. And it's not like Jay Cutler, who forces it because he has the arm and the ego. Dalton is not that way at all. Something is missing."

This is the debate of Andy Dalton. He is probably good enough that the Bengals can't cut him, but is he good enough to be the head of this team for the next 5 years?

When looking over the rankings, Dalton's QBR is above other well known quarterbacks. Dalton tops Matthew Stafford, Joe Flacco and Sam Bradford. Bradford may have run his course with the Rams, but Flacco and Stafford are two quarterbacks that are not in danger of losing their position on the Lions / Ravens.

I was hoping for more of an answer from this new angle to look at Andy Dalton. I wanted a definitive vote to whether we as Bengals fans should be excited or nervous for Dalton to continue to lead this team. Instead we got a Solomon like evaluation where we are still stuck holding our opinions of a QB that we all hope will improve in his 4th year.

So here is the vote, I want to see the tally at this stage before the draft and you are jaded by whether or not the Bengals did / did not select a QB.

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