In his seven-year career, Andy Dalton has shown to be one of the most situationally-dependent quarterbacks in the NFL.
He is one of 20 quarterbacks to start 64 games since entering the league in 2011. Compared to those 19 other quarterbacks, he is one of the least productive passers in losses. He ranks 18th in completion percentage, 16th in touchdown/interception ratio, 17th in passer rating, and 16th in adjusted net yards/attempt.
qbs with >=64 starts since 2011 ranked by completion%, td/int ratio, passer rating and any/a in losses: pic.twitter.com/EjKPcbbpqY— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) July 10, 2018
When the Bengals lose, Dalton’s play has shown to be a noticeable factor in comparison to other veteran quarterbacks in the NFL. However, this does mean that the same can be said when they win. The Bengals go as far as Andy Dalton takes them, and Andy Dalton goes as far as his supporting cast can help him, if that makes sense.
Only big difference in Common/Uncommon Andy Dalton this season has been the interceptions. pic.twitter.com/NDU85nmtHc— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) November 13, 2017
Predicting Dalton’s success has proven to be almost elementary when focusing on an important aspect. The Athletic’s Joe Goodberry’s common/uncommon opponent metric has shown to reveal a noticeable split in production for the entirety of Dalton’s career, and last season was no different.
But what if we dug deeper into Dalton’s splits?
We have 109 games worth of data on Dalton’s career entering 2018, and profootballreference.com has a bunch of accessible splits on every player in the league. As I tirelessly count down the days until training camp begins, l constructed the ideal game for the Bengals signal-caller. Here are the stats that will be used to decide each split:
- Games/Win-Loss Record
- Completion %
- Yards per Completion
- Passer Rating
- Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt
Split 1: Home or Away
The most basic and even split imaginable. Dalton has played in 55 home games compared to 54 road games, so he has had equal opportunity to make a case for each. For both values having large sample sizes, the data was mainly similar:
Home & Away
The Bengals have unsurprisingly won more games at home than on the road with Dalton at the helm, but Dalton’s production is very similar inside and outside of Paul Brown Stadium. It should be noted that the 2016 game in London was counted as a home game, so that technicality has slightly skewed the data.
This was a close decision; but, a higher winning percentage, completion percentage, yards per completion, and ANY/A ultimately swayed the choice to playing in Cincinnati.
Split 2: Month
The NFL regular season is neatly started in the beginning of September and almost always ends on the final days of December, making for nearly even distribution of games in each of the four months. Dalton has played nearly equal games in each month while additionally playing two games in January, which were not included.
Dalton’s two player of the month awards both were given to him for his efforts in the month of October in 2013 and 2015. His winning %, completion %, passer rating and ANY/A top the three other months in his career and his yards per completion and TD%-INT% are impressive in their own right.
Split 3: Game Number/Season Quartile
As an alternative to looking at specific months, splitting the season evenly in four week quartiles makes for cleaner distribution of games played. Dalton’s only missed games (three) occurred in December of 2015 and has only played 25 games in the final quarter of each season compared to 28 for each of the other three quartiles.
This is really a competition between the first and second quartile. 17 wins in 28 games and nearly identical completion percentages makes a good case for both. However, A full yard more in terms of yards per completion and nearly that in ANY/A along with a high passer rating gives the edge to Games 1-4. As it just so happens, Game 4 for NFL teams occasionally falls on the first weekend of October.
Winner: Games 1-4
Split 4: Day
These next to are more uneven splits, as every NFL team plays the vast majority of its games on Sunday as opposed to Thursday, Saturday and Monday Evening. And the results favor the majority.
Sunday has always been Dalton’s favorite day, and the numbers back it up. No contest here.
Split 5: Time
So we know the game will be on a Sunday, but what time should kickoff be? The data actually revealed some interesting revelations.
If you, visiting fans on this website, have any primetime jokes you want to get off, this is the time to do it. Obviously Dalton has not fared well at night, but 4pm EST kickoffs are just as good, if not better, than your standard 1pm EST start time. A slightly higher winning %, ANY/A, passer rating, and noticeable jump in TD%-INT% gives the afternoon slot the fringe victory.
Split 6: Conference
This is where Goodberry’s metric gets put on display even more. Dalton and the Bengals only get to play the NFC four times a year which decreases the sample size compared to the AFC, but the results speak for themselves.
Higher win %, completion %, TD%-INT%, passer rating and ANY/A. Easy decision.
Split 7: NFC Division
My subjective reasoning was utilized the most in this split. The data showed two divisions worthy of being selected, each with different and compelling reasoning.
Despite boasting a 5-2 record against the NFC West, Dalton’s production was not that inspiring in those seven contests, perhaps because four of those games where in his rookie season. His career against the NFC North is much more solid, but I focused on the East and South.
Dalton’s played more games against the East than the South (the Bengals have the South on their schedule this season) and has never lost against a team from that division. His completion % and yards per completion is better along with his ANY/A. But despite that, I ended up choosing the NFC East for his higher TD%-INT%, passer rating, and performances against those opponents in non-primetime contests. But I respect arguments otherwise.
Winner: NFC East
Split 8: NFC East Opponent
The final split, which team to face Dalton. Each with an equal sample size, and each with valid rationale.
NFC East Opponent
|New York Giants||2||1||1||0||62.71%||10.89||6.78%||104||7.1|
Because we only have a two game sample size, we can also look at the individual games and how Dalton produced in each one.
|Andy Dalton||2012-09-23||CIN||@||WAS||W 38-31||3||Sun||19||27||70.37||328||3||1||132.9||2||16||12.15||12.70|
|Andy Dalton||2016-12-04||CIN||PHI||W 32-14||12||Sun||23||31||74.19||332||2||0||130.0||0||0||10.71||12.00|
|Andy Dalton||2012-11-11||CIN||NYG||W 31-13||9||Sun||21||30||70.00||199||4||0||127.6||0||0||6.63||9.30|
|Andy Dalton||2016-10-09||CIN||@||DAL||L 14-28||5||Sun||29||41||70.73||269||2||0||104.6||4||20||6.56||7.54|
|Andy Dalton||2016-10-30||CIN||WAS||T 27-27||8||Sun||27||42||64.29||284||1||1||81.8||3||21||6.76||6.17|
|Andy Dalton||2012-12-09||CIN||DAL||L 19-20||13||Sun||20||33||60.61||206||1||1||76.1||5||16||6.24||5.48|
|Andy Dalton||2016-11-14||CIN||@||NYG||L 20-21||9||Mon||16||29||55.17||204||1||1||74.5||3||18||7.03||6.17|
|Andy Dalton||2012-12-13||CIN||@||PHI||W 34-13||14||Thu||13||27||48.15||127||1||0||74.2||6||35||4.70||5.44|
The production against Philadelphia and Washington standout from an aggregate standout, with New York not trailing far behind. From a variance perspective, Philadelphia and New York show the biggest differences in passer rating and completion %, and for this reason, I’m giving the nod to Washington, though not by a considerable amount.
So, in conclusion, if you wanted to see the greatest possible game of Andy Dalton’s career, you would need the following requirements:
Matchup: Bengals vs. Redskins
Time: 4:05/4:25pm EST
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Game Number: 4
In 2024, when the Redskins are scheduled to come to Cincinnati next, we’ll make sure to email this to the league office.