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Preseason Week 2 Bengals vs. Bucs: The Dalton Dispatch

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Andy Dalton is the most scrutinized player on the Bengals. In this weekly column, we keep track of his progress and setbacks so as to make for more informed discussions about his play.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, we will analyze the performance of quarterback Andy Dalton. On Monday, Dalton and the Bengals lost in Tampa Bay, 25-11. For highlights and analysis of that game, watch the video below:

The Data:

Andy Dalton was 6/13 for 46 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He had a QB rating of 15.7. Dalton played the entire first half of the game.

Deconstructing Dalton:

After a brief but impressive showing against the Giants in the preseason opener, Dalton and the offense struggled mightily against the Buccaneers. He was under constant pressure (sacked three times) and looked discombobulated as a result. Perhaps most disheartening, Dalton appeared to become unraveled after his first interception, which was largely the fault of A.J. Green. The ball bounced off the Pro Bowl receiver's hands and was returned for a touchdown by safety Alterraun Verner. After that, Dalton appeared overwhelmed in the nationally-televised game. On the next series, he threw a seam route well over the head of the 6'6" Tyler Eifert that was picked off by safety Bradley McDougald. On the next series, Dalton overthrew running back Jeremy Hill on a short pass.

Apparently, Marvin Lewis was set on keeping his quarterback in the game until they scored, which occurred with less than three minutes remaining in the first half. On that drive, Dalton decided to go into attack mode and, as a result, he made some decent throws, including a 37-yard go-route to Marvin Jones that resulted in a pass interference penalty that placed the ball on the Tampa Bay 24-yard line. On the next play, the fifth-year quarterback found tight end Tyler Eifert in traffic just outside the goalline, but the ball was knocked out of Eifert's hands. After a five-yard run by Giovani Bernard, Dalton would attempt a short pass to Green that was nearly intercepted and returned for another score. Cincinnati would settle for a field goal.

On Deck:

Dalton and the offense get a chance to redeem themselves against the new-look Bears on Saturday. Chicago added defensive end Pernell McPhee in the offseason and moved a now-healthy Jared Allen to linebacker. So far, the results have been good. After finishing 30th against the pass in 2014, Chicago has looked like a different team in the preseason. Through two games against the Colts and Dolphins, the Bears have allowed just 179 yards through the air per game and have picked off four passes.

Dalton's Direction:

Slightly downward. After a flawless game against the Giants, Dalton's offseason work looks a bit less impressive now. And yet, we cannot read too much into the Bucs game. While some may be tempted to dismiss the disaster in Tampa Bay as another poor performance by Dalton in a primetime game, it should be noted that he continued to attack down the field after his two interceptions. Also, the offensive line (Kevin Zeitler and Russell Bodine in particular) did not perform well and Dalton's timing with his receivers was lacking. Hill fumbled on his only strong run and Green's break in concentration caused a disastrous pick-six. The offense in general needs polishing, but that is why they have the preseason.

In terms of mechanics, Dalton does seem to have improved. For instance, he completed a crisp pass on the run to Green for fourteen yards along the right sideline on his first attempt of the game. This was strikingly similar to a pass he completed against New York. Thus, Dalton seems to have added a new dimension to his game. Now he just needs to settle down and help his offense execute.