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Building the perfect Andy Dalton game

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Splits, splits and more splits!

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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
  • Touchdown%-Interception%
  • 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

Value G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Value G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Home 55 34 19 2 62.46% 11.65 1.9% 88.5 6.31
Road 54 29 25 0 62.24% 11.39 2.25% 88.9 6.07

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.

Winner: Home

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.

Month

Month G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Month G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
September 24 14 10 0 64.74% 12.15 1.67% 92.5 6.82
October 27 16 9 2 65.13% 11.76 2.25% 93.5 6.57
November 27 15 12 0 58.53% 11.34 2.34% 83.8 5.69
December 29 17 12 0 61.73% 10.83 2.05% 86.1 5.71

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.

Winner: October

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.

Season Quartile

Games G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Games G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
(1-4) 28 17 11 0 64.87% 12.49 2.1% 95.1 7.16
(5-8) 28 17 9 2 64.69% 11.34 2.40% 92.3 6.31
(9-12) 28 15 13 0 58.75% 11.52 2.05% 83.6 5.79
(13-16) 25 14 11 0 60.85% 10.56 1.67% 83.1 5.39

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.

Day

Day G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Day G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Sunday 95 57 36 2 62.91% 11.67 2.31% 90.6 6.4
Monday 6 2 4 0 58.57% 10.42 0.95% 77.9 5.16
Thursday 6 3 3 0 57.28% 11.06 -0.49% 72.2 4.5
Saturday 2 1 1 0 63.89% 9.17 2.78% 87.8 5.13

Sunday has always been Dalton’s favorite day, and the numbers back it up. No contest here.

Winner: Sunday

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.

Time

Time G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Time G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Morning 1 0 0 1 64.29% 10.52 0.00% 81.8 5.29
Early 76 49 26 1 63.16% 11.91 1.91% 90 6.42
Afternoon 14 9 5 0 62.39% 10.72 4.41% 95.1 6.53
Late 18 5 13 0 59.05% 10.63 1.11% 79.3 5.12

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.

Winner: Afternoon

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.

Conference

Conference G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Conference G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
AFC 82 47 35 0 61.31% 11.55 1.81% 86.6 6.07
NFC 27 16 9 2 65.61% 11.43 2.92% 95.5 6.54

Higher win %, completion %, TD%-INT%, passer rating and ANY/A. Easy decision.

Winner: NFC

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.

NFC Division

Division G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Division G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
NFC East 8 4 3 1 64.62% 11.6 4.23% 100 6.87
NFC North 8 4 4 0 67.46% 11.51 3.17% 98.9 6.72
NFC South 4 3 0 1 72.17% 11.7 1.74% 99.6 7.32
NFC West 7 5 2 0 61.40% 10.98 1.75% 84.6 5.58

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

Opponent G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Opponent G W L T Cmp% Y/C TD%-INT% Passer Rating ANY/A
Dallas Cowboys 2 0 2 0 66.22% 9.69 2.70% 91.9 5.47
New York Giants 2 1 1 0 62.71% 10.89 6.78% 104 7.1
Philadelphia Eagles 2 2 0 0 62.07% 12.75 5.17% 104 7.56
Washington Redskins 2 1 0 1 66.67% 13.3 2.90% 101.8 7.64

Because we only have a two game sample size, we can also look at the individual games and how Dalton produced in each one.

Query Results Table
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Date Tm Opp Result G# Day Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate
Sk Yds Y/A AY/A
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
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/11/2018.

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.

Winner: Washington


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

Month: October

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.