With the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense stumbling out of the game en route to a lackluster 1-3 start, much of the blame fell on quarterback Andy Dalton. And to be fair, he is not without criticism due to missed throws, bad reads, and plenty of turnovers.
But how does Dalton compare after the first four games of 2017 versus the first four games of his other seasons as the Bengals’ quarterback? Is he truly having a monumentally bad season, or about where he normally starts?
Andy Dalton 4 games into each season
There are several interesting things from this table. One take away is that this is the first time in seven seasons that the Bengals have had a losing record after four games. The Bengals were a combined 16-8 after four games dating back to 2011. But this year’s 1-3 start is definitely the worst.
Another interesting revelation from the table shows that Dalton is enjoying his best completion percentage this year at 69%, but he also has his lowest yards per completion at a mere 10.5 and has the fewest passing yards since his rookie season with 892. Basically, he is completing shorter passes in 2017. And part of this could be due to the high number of sacks that he is taking. His 14 sacks after four games (on pace for 56) is the worst in his career. He is also getting sacked once for every nine passes that he attempts, which is the worst rate in his career. To put that number in perspective, since 2014, the number of pass attempts Dalton made per sack has dropped from 108 to 58, to 11, and now 9. So the pass protection was bad last year and is even worse this year, which seems to be forcing Dalton into high completion, short yardage passes.
Another disconcerting thing to consider is that despite throwing shorter passes, Dalton is still getting sacked at an alarming rate. It’s one thing for the quarterback to be getting sacked a lot because he is standing a long time in the pocket waiting for deep routes to develop. It’s another thing to be getting sacked a lot, despite already adjusting for a lack of pass protection by attempting shorter passes.
His quarterback passer rating after four games is a pretty good 92.6 after four games, which is interesting because his interception percentage is a career-worst 3.3 percent. What is also interesting is that after four games, his passer rating is pretty good almost every year. For his career, his passer rating after four games is almost 100, since his rookie season. So he typically seems to be a very efficient quarterback early in the season and gets worse as the weather worsens (perhaps coincidentally).
Ultimately comparing Dalton’s start in 2017 to other seasons, we see that he’s turning over the ball too frequently, is getting sacked too often, and is attempting and completing short passes.