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Bengals Week 6 Mailbag: Rating Dalton, starting Gio, what's with Tate?

After five games without a blemish, the Bengals are sitting pretty for the playoffs and we take a look at whether Dalton can break records, who should start at running back and what to make of Brandon Tate and his kickoff returns. Saddle up Bengals fans for another weekly edition of the Cincy Jungle mailbag.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson, thanks for the question and I love the optimism! While Andy Dalton is playing the best football of his career, I don't see him breaking the single season record for passer rating. For context, the record was set by Aaron Rodgers in 2011 with a rating of 122.5 (45 touchdowns, 4,643 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns and 6 interceptions) and Dalton currently stands at 115.6. Therefore, in order to beat the record, Andy Dalton would have to start playing better than he is currently playing, and to be honest, I am not sure Andy Dalton is capable of playing any better than he is - nor should anyone expect him to. A rating of 115.6 is amazing, in fact, there have only been four seasons where a quarterback ended with a rating higher than 115.6 - Rodgers (122.5 - 2011), Peyton Manning (121.1 - 2004), Nick Foles (119.2 - 2013) and Tom Brady (117.2 - 2007).  To put Dalton's play into perspective, Manning's record breaking season in 2013 (55 touchdowns, 5,477 yards and 10 interceptions) only netted a rating of 115.1! So, let's slow down a bit on breaking any records and just enjoy Dalton's run! Dalton has a career rating of 87.3 and a rating of 95.0 would have put Dalton in the top 5 or 10 in each of the last 13 seasons. If Dalton can end the season with a rating in the mid-90's, that would be outstanding and Bengals fans should be more than happy with that - after all, Peyton Manning has a career rating of 94.9.

Hey Tyler, thanks for the question! I think Hue Jackson will go with whomever is playing better and you are correct, at this point, that guy is Giovani Bernard. Where I will disagree with you is in regards to who the starter is. In the Seattle game, Bernard played 66 snaps (78%) to Jeremy Hill's 19 (22%), so as far as I am concerned, Bernard is the starter. He may not always be the running back on the field for the Bengals' first offensive snaps, but that is just semantics. He has been the more productive back and the Bengals are rewarding him as such. The Bengals would love to get Hill going - and I think they need to as it gets colder - but right now, they are riding the hot hand.

Depends on the speed of this guy you speak of! As for Tate, my feelings on Tate are well known. If it were up to me, his time on this team would have ended a few years ago. I get your frustration and it is valid. As far as I am concerned, unless you are a dynamic returner like Devin Hester or even Adam Jones (a class of returner which does not include Tate), if you take a kickoff from deep in the endzone and don't get to the 20, you get a warning. If you do it again, you are benched. By my calculation, on Sunday, Tate took three kickoffs from deep in his endzone and three times was introduced to the Paul Brown Stadium turf short of the 20 yard line - including one time when his up guy was telling him to kneel it. While I blame Tate first and foremost, I also blame the coaching. Why was he not benched after the second one? At what point is he held to a standard where taking kickoffs out of the endzone and being tackled before the 20 is considered unacceptable?  Tate did have a good day on punt returns (13.5 average), but when it comes to kick returns, I would rather see you or I back there - at least we would kneel it.