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Let's All Stop Blaming Andy Dalton

No one takes more heat from fans of the Bengals and the national media than Andy Dalton. Every loss is pinned on the QB and I don't think he gets a fair shake.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I am labeled the Andy Dalton lover. I am attacked on Twitter at all times about how I am blind to Andy's mistakes. I am accused of not being able to say anything negative about No. 14. Many people call me an idiot for my loyalty to Dalton and love to tell me I am wrong.

Well, here is the real story, you are all wrong.

Already you are angry, wanting to reach through your computer or your phone and punch me in the nose. But, it's true, you are all wrong about Andy Dalton.

At any point in a game, someone is blaming Andy Dalton for something. "If Andy got rid of the ball sooner the line wouldn't be an issue." Or "If the opposing defense was scared of Andy than the running game would be more wide open." Or "If Dalton could throw a more accurate deep ball than the defense would respect that part of the game." Or my favorite "If Andy Dalton could throw for a first down than the defense wouldn't be exhausted from being on the field." All of these excuses conveniently wrap up all the shortcomings of this Bengals team to a QB who does not deserve the blame.

I often respond to comments or Tweets where people make statements like "A good quarterback can make all those throws", or "Tom Brady and Andrew Luck have won games with worse talent around them." These comments get to me. You see, shame on you for expecting more of Dalton than what he is. Yeah, read that. The egg is on your face if you expect Andy Dalton to be the type of quarterback in the same caliber of the Tom Brady's, Peyton Manning's and the Andrew Luck's. He wasn't drafted as that guy and we shouldn't expect that of him. Ever.

The Bengals have not made four straight playoff appearances (every year Dalton has been the QB) because of Andy Dalton. They have made the playoffs because the team in which Dalton is surrounded compliments his skill set very well. You see, there is a defense that at times (although inconsistently) shuts down an opposing offense. There are talented receivers that at times (although inconsistently) fight for footballs, grab them at their highest point and make corners look silly. There are a couple tight ends that at times (although inconsistently) play at an all pro level. There is a running game that at times (although inconsistently) dominates the opponents defense. Add to that a quarterback who his pretty good at completing high percentage passes and boom, four consecutive years in the playoffs.

Take this last playoff game for example. All day people were blaming Dalton, and they should be ashamed. The offensive line was terrible in pass blocking. I was there, I saw it all. Andy Dalton had no time to scan the field. This is devastating for a QB who is not that great at scanning the field anyway. Yet, people want to vilify him for not morphing into a Peyton Manning who is a master at not giving up the sack. Some even compared him to a Ben Roethlisberger saying he was too easy to bring down.

The running game was bad and we went away from it. So we lump more onto a QB that we all know and agree on shouldn't hold that responsibility. Add to that, the entire Bengals world was injured. Dalton was throwing to receivers who almost definitely wouldn't have seen the field if the offense was totally healthy. Yet, we wanted him to fit the ball into tight places like Aaron Rodgers, even though we all know that is what he does.

I hope you are starting to see my point. Andy Dalton is a serviceable quarterback who at times, plays really well. He is not in the discussion of the top passers in the league.

Some of you are already typing "Is it wrong for me to want more from my team?". The answer, of course, is no. But come on, what is gained by bashing fans about a quarterback that is not going anywhere 10 games into a season? Reality check, he is probably going to continue on as the Bengals' quarterback for some time, no matter how much you Tweet and comment online. I have blocked many people on Twitter because for some reason they felt like they needed to attack me over a span of 10 hours on a Wednesday morning all about Andy Dalton., and all because I wouldn't jump in the shame spiral they've created for themselves, expecting No. 14 to be a quarterback he never has been and never will be.

So what is the answer? Stop blaming Dalton for everything. It is a lesson in futility. The Bengals need to develop the team around him. Dalton needs a strong run game to win. He needs great pass blocking to win. He needs healthy pass catchers to win and he needs a good defense to win. All of these things will improve Andy Dalton.

Let's stop giving the rest of the team a pass because it's so easy to blame the quarterback. The defense disappears in the playoffs to the tune of 500 yard games. The running game is ineffective. A.J. Green shrinks when the lights come on. These things are also real and to me, mean more to the outcome of the game than a quarterback who is really playing at the same level he has all along.

Although my message is pretty simple, I am sure I will still be the Dalton lover. So I will wear that. I love mediocre quarterbacks. I would also love to see people come to the realization that it's not Dalton's fault the Bengals lose these primetime games. It's the fact that the team surrounding the quarterback plays below the level we know they can play, and Dalton is not the guy who will shoulder the load when that happens.