The NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2016 show continued last night and Andy Dalton made his first-ever appearance on the network's Top 100 list. Dalton came in at No. 35 which is a great and deserving honor for the Bengals quarterback.
Interestingly, Steelers players paid Dalton a considerable amount of respect in the video clip of his ranking placement.
"I mean you just see his maturation over the years," Steelers safety Will Allen said of Dalton. "From him changing the play calls, looking off defenders, manipulating the safeties, and I think that's what he's evolved to over the years and now the coaches are putting more on his shoulders and he's taking it like 'I want it, let's go."
That's actually a great assessment of what Dalton did well in 2015. He read defenses expertly (well, maybe other than on the play in which he fractured his thumb and ended his season), changed plays at the line of scrimmage and was able to assess what was coming and use it to his advantage. And, it was clear that last season, the coaches put their trust in Dalton and that benefited everybody around him.
Allen wasn't the only Steelers player to comment on the Bengals' signal caller.
"You look at him in year's past, he may have had turnovers and stuff like that, not performing in big games, but now, you can just see the growth that he's had, the confidence that he's playing with and he's making big plays in big moments," Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats said.
"I think being around the game for a while, that cerebral part of the game, of playing quarterback and knowing how to put your team in the right positions to be successful, that's what I think you've seen in him this year," Bengals offensive tackle and NFLPA president Eric Winston said of his quarterback.
"Ya know, he understands the game, he has really understood where blitzes are coming from, where defenses are trying to take advantage," Andrew Whitworth, who ranked 67th on the list said of Dalton.
At that point in the video, we see Dalton telling Giovani Bernard, "38's coming," seconds before a snap when playing against the Chiefs in Week 4 of the 2015 season. And, once the ball is hiked, who is coming straight at Bernard? None other than Chiefs safety Ron Parker, #38, who Bernard blows up on the spot as Dalton escapes with the ball to easily net a first down. After the play, Winston walks over to Dalton and says, "Have you been doing this for a while? You seem like you're pretty good at it."
That play was a perfect example of how Dalton excelled in 2015 and what fans are hoping to see once again in 2016.
The quarterbacks ranked behind Dalton so far on the top 100 list (which has still yet to reveal numbers 1-30) are Philip Rivers (46), Eli Manning (47), Blake Bortles (56), Kirk Cousins (85), Andrew Luck (92) and Derek Carr (100). I'm pretty happy with Dalton's placement on the list, selected by his NFL peers; how about you?