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Andy Dalton receives praise as best “post” route passer in NFL

Dalton’s elite effectiveness throwing the post route toward A.J. Green and now rookie John Ross is a match made in heaven.

Philadelphia Eagles v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Pro Football Focus has not shied away from praising the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, even coming off a 6-9-1 season.

From highlighting how well the team’s top draft picks from the past two drafts graded in college, to putting Geno Atkins and A.J. Green in their top 50 players in the league; PFF has been crediting the team more than most other media outlets. Now, they have Andy Dalton as their top quarterback when throwing “post” routes, according to the standard passer rating metric:

Not only is that 158.3 passer rating higher than all other quarterbacks, but it’s also a perfect passer rating. To review Dalton’s masterful post route efficiency, I went back to the film and reviewed the most prominent examples of this route in the Bengals’ offense. To start off, let’s look at some post routes targeted at Green.

On all three of these completions, Dalton and Green connect against some form of 2 high coverage. Green beats soft man coverage on the first clip, and then attacks the soft spot of the boundary and middle zones in the next two clips. What’s interesting is that while all three passes are accurate, none are precise in the sense of hitting Green in stride and giving him an opportunity to generate yards after the catch. Additionally, none of the catches were made in a contested manner.

Dalton’s passer rating on post routes goes hand-in-hand with Green’s wide receiver rating on the route, as he proved to be quite successful compared to the league average.

Dalton’s other boundary targe, Brandon Lafell, had success when being targeted running a post as well:

These are the plays that truly exemplify Dalton’s expertise when throwing to the route. All three times Dalton places the ball in LaFell’s hands with the correct velocity, touch and placement. In the first clip, we get to see with the end zone angle the window into which Dalton was throwing, right off of LaFell’s break inside. If the ball is thrown anywhere more inside, it’s going to be deflected beforehand by the cornerback. If it was thrown anywhere more outside, Lafell wouldn’t have been able to catch up to it.

The real beauties are the next two. The second clip is Dalton’s lone passing touchdown against the New England Patriots last year. The anticipation on the strike is what sticks out here. Dalton finishes his motion when the corner is still in a position between himself and LaFell, but the throw leads LaFell perfectly off his break toward the goal posts and the separation is achieved.

In the third clip, Lafell runs a “skinny post”, which is basically what would happen if you averaged out the angles of a “go” route and a traditional post route. LaFell has nothing more than half-a-step on the corner but the ball is placed in the exact spot where he can make a play on it in stride and the corner can’t.

Dalton didn’t target the post route that often last year (28 of his 563 attempts), but with how effective he was doing so, it’d be wise to increase its usage going forward. Dalton has always been noticeably more effective when throwing to in-breaking routes; why not emphasize it? Adding rookie John Ross, who recorded the same perfect rating on post routes in college is just the icing on the cake:

Want proof for your eyes?

The Bengals have an opportunity to take the top off of any defense they face this season. Expect the post route to be used even more as a major part of what the Cincinnati offense is doing.