Andy Dalton has often been the butt of every NFL quarterback joke.
Ever since he got his second contract (which has turned out to be super reasonable for his talent), fans and analysts have viewed him as the consensus joke quarterback for just how average he has been. There is still a very large portion of Bengals fans who have been hoping and even demanding that the team move on from Dalton.
Their argument has been strengthened by Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com’s newest article that ranks how well each team’s future is set at the quarterback position. He ranked Dalton 32nd out of 34.
Dalton has been the definition of average during his time with the Bengals, and after 109 starts in the NFL, it is clear Dalton is what he is -- a guy who can get you to 9-7, but that is about it.
Let’s address the elephant of the room first. Dalton isn’t innocent of these remarks. He has had performances that have cast this doubt on more than one occasion. He is 0-4 in the playoffs, and his performances during primetime games have been abysmal.
That being said, Dalton doesn’t deserve to be ranked this low, and there is also reason to believe he could be in line for a big season.
First, as far as the analysis to why Dalton is ranked only ahead of Sam Bradford and Eli Manning, that doesn’t seem like the description of a team with a poor future at quarterback. It isn’t the brightest by any means, but to say he is only better than two people is outrageous.
Dalton has only two losing seasons on his resume, and during them, there were clearly things wrong aside from his ability at quarterback. I’m not saying he doesn’t share some of the blame in the past two seasons, but to have him shoulder all of it isn’t fair.
Dalton has a career record of 63-44-2, and Shorr-Parks refers to this as a bad thing. It is pretty easy to disagree that having a quarterback that can consistently get you to around nine wins a season is a good thing. That pretty much means year in and year out the Bengals are in contention for a playoff spot, and you never know what can happen once a team gets in the playoffs.
Before you start rattling off jokes, let me present you with the counterargument of having a quarterback who rarely gets you to a spot where you are even sniffing the playoffs. Does that sound better to you?
There is also the strong possibility that we see one of Dalton’s better seasons in 2018. There are a lot moving pieces that need to fall into place still considering the team hasn’t even met for training camp, but the outlook is good.
The biggest aspect has to be the change of the playbook. Dalton has been in roughly the same offense since he entered the NFL, and now he finally gets to do some new stuff, and when players are engaged again it tends to have an impact on how they play.
Not to mention Dalton should have more time to throw the ball. The Bengals traded for left tackle Cordy Glenn, drafted center Bill Price and brought in Frank Pollack from Dallas to coach the offensive line. Even if the line ends up only being average, it will be a huge improvement from last season.
I’m not here to say Dalton should be the unquestioned quarterback of the Bengals. In fact, if he struggles this season, then the team should be very active in finding a possible replacement for him. It should still be safe to say that Dalton will lead the Bengals back into competing for a playoff spot, and once they make it in, who knows what could happen.