Andy Dalton is a franchise quarterback. Hearing someone say that two or three years ago would've sounded pretty wild, but Dalton made a leap that no one expected he would. Entering the league, Dalton was viewed as a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect. Five years later, it's safe to say Dalton has already skyrocketed above where many believed his ceiling would be.
For those who aren't familiar with the Around the NFL podcast, NFL.com's Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler, Chris Wesseling and Gregg Rosenthal breakdown news and come up with interesting segments in a show that takes place three times per week. The show often analyzes pieces and ideas that the writers have written or come up with. One of their ideas, which gained traction in the 2013 offseason, was the Dalton Scale.
For all intents and purposes, the Dalton Scale aims to determine whether an NFL club has a franchise quarterback or is still searching for its franchise signal-caller. After the 2013 Bengals, arguably one of the most talented teams in football, got melted by the Chargers in their first home loss of the entire season, common consensus surrounding Andy Dalton was that the quarterback choked when things matter most. And though Dalton has done plenty to combat the stereotype, in 2013, it seemed somewhat warranted.
The Bengals were expected to finally win a playoff game in 2013, and they didn't. Part of the blame has to lie on Dalton, who was heavily outplayed by Philip Rivers. However, some of the blame should've also gone to the defense, which surrendered 196 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Three Chargers running backs tallied at least 50 yards rushing, while neither Bengals running back eclipsed more than 45 yards rushing.
It was easy to criticize Dalton's 0-3 playoff record, and because of it, the Around the NFL podcast created a segment called the Dalton Scale. Essentially, the group explained how Andy Dalton is the prime meridian of NFL quarterbacks. If your quarterback is better than Dalton, or ahead of him on the scale, your team has a franchise quarterback. If your quarterback is below Dalton on the scale, it's time to find a new passer.
As I mentioned, however, Dalton is no longer the prime meridian of NFL quarterbacks, or at least not per the Around the NFL podcast.
Of the four, Chris Wesseling is the most critical of Dalton. A Cincinnati native who, angered with the Bengals' repeated breaking of his heart when he was a fan, became a self-coined football agnostic, or one who chooses not to cheer for a particular team and just enjoy the game. Wesseling has become fairly critical of the Bengals. He cited that baseball's Mendoza line (the term coined for a player who bats .200), named after Mario Mendoza, who has been retired for over 20 years, is still named the Mendoza line even though he's no longer in the league. In Wesseling's eyes, though Dalton is now known as a franchise quarterback, the name should remain the same.
Gregg Rosenthal came to Dalton's defense, claiming that because Alex Smith is the perfect candidate for the title, there's no reason not to change the name. Marc Sessler agreed:
Dalton felt like a guy [that] the minute he hit the league, his ceiling was known and he wasn't going to go above it. We knew who he was, but I think he's changed as a player, where Alex Smith is deeper in his career, and even though Alex Smith has had some very good statistical seasons, he is that guy.
The crew came to a consensus that Alex Smith, not Dalton, is the prime meridian of NFL quarterbacks. There's no telling whether the name of the phrase will change, but it's refreshing to see Dalton getting the credit he deserves as a franchise quarterback.