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Bengals season preview, part 3: How Far Can Andy Dalton take Cincinnati?

The media and even some Bengals fans want you to believe Andy Dalton is an average quarterback. But is that really the case or is he much better than the average?

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Andy Dalton is on his way to being the Cincinnati Bengals' career leader in a number of passing categories. He's already fourth in career passing yards and touchdowns, and he's higher than the three quarterbacks ahead of him (Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason and Carson Palmer) in career passer rating with a rating of 89.1.

Of course, he still lags far behind Bengals great Mohamed Sanu's perfect 158.3 QB rating.

Despite such accomplishments, the narrative is that Dalton doesn't have what it takes to carry his team to a championship. In the following video, we debate that claim:

The standard for quarterbacks now (and perhaps all-time) is Tom Brady. He has repeatedly come up big late in the postseason and taken his team where they wanted to go. What's interesting is that Dalton and Brady share a number of characteristics.

For instance, Dalton and Brady both see steep declines in their accuracy when faced with pressure:

Pro Football Focus

And this seems to somehow be related to the next thing they share: both get rid of the ball really quickly. In 2014, Brady and Dalton were ranked first and fourth respectively in getting rid of the ball between 2.1 and 2.5 seconds. In 2015, Pro Football Focus wrote that Brady’s passes to start the season were the quickest snap to throw they’d tracked since 2011. Meanwhile, Dalton has regularly been near the top of the league in terms of getting rid of the ball quickly:

So, perhaps both see steep declines in their accuracy when pressured because for them to allow the pass rush to get to them means the play has broken down, since they usually make their decisions quickly.

But what does this have to do with Dalton’s potential for postseason success?

Well, if you remember, back in 2014, Brady’s offensive line was considered a major weakness. After a 41-14 shellacking at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots dropped to 2-2, and there was even talk it was time to try Jimmy Garoppolo. Yes, I’m serious. Like, totally serious. Bill Belichick was even asked in the postgame conference if the quarterback situation would be evaluated.

Then, of course, came Belichick’s famous “we’re on to Cincinnati” line, and shortly after, a win over the Bengals. The rest was history. The team went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in a thrilling Super Bowl and has won another Lombardi since.

The point of all this is, Dalton shares attributes with Brady that suggest that he, like the future Hall of Famer, could overcome an inexperienced offensive line and elevate the play of his offense, perhaps taking this talented 2017 Bengals roster deep into the playoffs.