Andy Dalton is finally getting some of the respect he deserves.
In a recent podcast from The Ringer's The NFL Show, Kevin Clark showered Dalton with praise, claiming he was the fifth quarterback he'd most want to have in 2016. Dalton ranked ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck, as well as many other quarterbacks on Clark's list. Clark's take on Dalton starts at 18:00. The other voice in the podcast is that of Robert Mays.
Say what you will about Clark's take, but he made more than a few great points. In 2015, Dalton was far more consistent and reliable than Rodgers, like it or not. Dalton had a better second half of the season, garnering a passer rating of about 96 after posting a passer rating of about 111 over the first half of the year. For comparison's sake, Rodgers posted a 108 passer rating in the first half of the season and a meager 80 rating in the second half of 2015. Passer rating isn't everything, but Dalton definitely showed more consistency in 2015 than the former NFL MVP.
Clark also praised Dalton's spray charts, claiming that they were better than those of Rodgers, and noted how Dalton has quietly become a master at passing the ball over the middle of the field. Dalton threw 12 touchdown passes and only one interception when going over the middle of the field, and he posted an impressive 109 passer rating against the blitz.
Mays had enough of Clark's praising Dalton. He cited that Mohamed Sanu, Dalton's third-best wideout, got a $32 million deal in Atlanta, noting that Rodgers is throwing to guys like Davante Adams. (For what it's worth, Adams was a second-round draft pick in 2014). Mays claimed that unlike Dalton, Rodgers has made his wideouts better for the entirety of his career, but he simply wasn't able to do so last season. Meanwhile, he argued that Dalton was the beneficiary of stellar offensive line play and great play-calling. Because he had weapons like A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert out wide, Mays seems to think that any quarterback, like Dalton, could thrive in that situation.
While that's probably true, it's also important to note that people weren't calling Tom Brady a product of Bill Belichick's system when he was slinging passes to Randy Moss and Wes Welker behind an offensive line that boasted three Pro Bowlers. Obviously it's unfair to compare the two, but until Andy Dalton puts together a subpar season, it's hard to argue he's not at least a top 10 quarterback, especially after his outstanding 2015 season.
What's also interesting is that Clark believes the Bengals will make the Super Bowl this season. Mays didn't dismiss the idea, citing that if it weren't for Dalton's 2015 injury, he believes the Bengals could have made a Super Bowl appearance last year, too.