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Andy Dalton slighting tour is in full swing

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ESPN''s Mike Sando created his annual NFL quarterback rankings list, using a tiered system he created with league personnel men. The overall input on the Bengals' signal-caller might leave some shaking their heads in disappointment.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We get it NFL media -- you're not stoked on the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback.

Despite 40 regular season wins and playoff appearances in every season during which he has been an NFL player, Andy Dalton has set two major franchise single-season passing records and is this generation's Rodney Dangerfield. Those who have seen Dalton in big moments know some criticism is warranted, but it seems as if it's totally en vogue to slight the guy at any given opportunity.

The latest quarterback ranking of the offseason comes from Mike Sando at ESPN, with his annual list. In it (you must have ESPN In$ider account to access the list), Sando uses input from current NFL personnel to create a tiered system of arbitrary rankings. Predictably, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady top the list, with just a few twists and turns from other ranking lists you may have seen elsewhere.

Just eking into the top-20 is Dalton, tied for 18th with current 49ers signal-caller and fellow 2011 second rounder, Colin Kaepernick. Here are some of the verdicts thrown out on Dalton as he sits towardsthe bottom of Tier Three (out of four):

Average rating: 2.94 | Change in rating: +1.9%

2014 Rank: T-19

Thirty-one of 35 voters placed Dalton among the 3s, giving Dalton the most such votes. Most thought he could become a 2. None said he could become a 1.

"I like Dalton, but I've seen him enough times to know his receivers have to make plays for him," a personnel director said. "He has had good receivers making big catches. I saw him being so sporadic needing a win to go into the playoffs or being a wild-card team, and playing terrible. He was the reason they lost."

Dalton ranks 20th out of 29 qualifying players in Total QBR since entering the league in 2011. The Bengals have the NFL's sixth-best record (42-23-1) during that span. Ranking third in defensive EPA has helped them succeed with statistically average quarterback play.

"Dalton can play as a high 3 or a low 3," a different personnel director said. "He has to win with his head and his short accuracy and the pieces around him. They have given him good pieces around him. The injuries at wideout really hurt him [in the playoffs]. He cannot carry the load, but he is solid. He is a win-with quarterback, not a win-because-of quarterback."

There are a couple of things to note here. First is the interesting, if tiny, uptick from last year's ranking, especially given the statistical drop-off. Perhaps those who studied him actually saw a 2014 Bengals team that was ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, as was briefly mentioned by the last personnel director questioned on Cincinnati's signal-caller.

The other thing to note is the half-truth given out by the initial personnel director. For those who listen to the Inside the Jungle podcast here at Cincy Jungle, you would know I'm far less of an unabashed Dalton supporter compared to my other roundtable colleagues. There's no denying Dalton's struggles in playoff and/or primetime games, but that initial personnel director causally omitted the disappearance(s) of a dominant defense throughout the course of the season, predictable/vanilla play-calling, the mentioned wideouts and tight ends dropping critical passes and a total lack of team preparedness for these moments.

Another interesting thing of note on this list is the rise of old friend, Carson Palmer. After coming in at No. 21 on last year's list, Palmer rose to 15th on this edition. While he had some good looking stats early in 2014 (11 touchdowns against just three interceptions), Palmer only played in six games because of injury. Was he more highly-regarded because of the offensive struggles after his injury? Hm.

Andy "Dangerfield" Dalton will continue to be ranked in this area of lists until he can get the Bengals past the first round of the playoffs. Then again, if they are able to do so, Dalton likely won't be credited, with the citation of a good defense and sound running game as easy targets to place success.

Then again, if the team wins in the playoffs with Dalton, what does it really matter where he ranks on arbitrary lists?