There are no shortage of issues plaguing the Bengals in their 0-5 start. An up-and-down defense, erratic play-calling on offense and injuries have all played their part in a winless beginning to the Zac Taylor era. Of course, in such a poor beginning of a season, the quarterback is also under the microscope.
On this week’s episode of The Orange and Black Insider, we welcomed in Evan McPhillips of Pro Football Focus. Aside from getting a baseline on how PFF comes up with their player scoring metrics, we dove into some 2019 Bengals player performances.
As we began to conclude the interview, we asked McPhillips about where a positional improvement would most immediately benefit the Bengals. Not surprisingly, he pointed to Andy Dalton.
Earlier in the week, McPhillips gave us an interesting piece of information about Dalton’s performance in Week 5 against the Cardinals.
Andy Dalton earned a 77.4 (@PFF) passing grade vs AZ, his highest mark of the season (9th among QBs).— Evan McPhillips (@emcphil) October 7, 2019
Through the first 4 weeks, Dalton produced a 62.7 grade from a clean pocket.
Yesterday, he was 21-27 for 215 yards, 2 TDs & an 85.5 grade when clean.pic.twitter.com/n8RRDx9mCj
What makes this particularly intriguing is in Dalton’s career-low 22 first half passing yards in Week 5. But, that’s not where PFF’s eye-opening data ends when it comes to Dalton.
- From a clean pocket, Dalton is rated 27th by PFF among NFL quarterbacks.
- His 86.8 rating from a clean pocket is ranked 30th out of 33 PFF-qualifying quarterbacks.
- His “uncatchable pass percentage”, which is the number of throws he’s made that are not deemed “catchable” by his intended targets from a clean pocket is 20.4 percent. That puts Dalton at No. 29 of 33 qualifying passers.
- For an overall reference, Dalton has clean conditions on 66 percent of his dropbacks.
- His average depth of target from a clean pocket is 6.9 yards is 26th among qualifying passers and the lowest of his career.
While some may note this as yet another Dalton hit piece, this data comes from a reliable, third-party source that specializes in this kind of narrowed-down information. And, to McPhillips’ credit, he also pointed that tackling at all levels and the regression of supposedly-star players in the secondary have been major issues in 2019.
Again, when addressing this issues with Dalton, there is a “chicken-or-the-egg” kind of thing occurring. In terms of the target depth piece of data, that may be more correlating to the absences of A.J. Green and John Ross—the two best deep-threats on the team.
And, even though there are more clean dropbacks than probably expected for Dalton this year, it’s clear that the inconsistencies up front have taken a mental toll. We’ve seen No. 14 escape pressure only to throw the ball away at times in these first five weeks—a trait which was not seen nearly as much from 2011-2017.
Unfortunately, these pieces of data show not only the erosion of the Bengals’ roster and the failures of the front office, but also in how Dalton has regressed with the rest of the roster. Yes, the injuries have had an effect, but his performances seem to be a far cry from the renaissance that was hoped for in Taylor’s arrival.
Also on this week’s show:
- We analyze the handful of questionable play-calls by Zac Taylor in their loss to the Cardinals.
- How does PFF come up with the measurements for its data?
- Who have been some of the pleasant surprises for the Bengals, in terms of positive PFF scores?
- What would the state of the team be if Marvin Lewis was still the head coach? Would the Bengals be better than 0-5? What about the long-term ramifications?
- Which fan base has it worse right now: that of the Cleveland Browns’ (not living up to immense offseason expectations) or the Bengals’ faithful (0-5 under a new, supposedly-exciting staff)?
- Who are some key Bengals players in the Week 6 clash against the Ravens, if the Bengals were to sneak out a victory in Baltimore?
Our thanks to the many live listeners and to Evan McPhillips for joining us. Join us live here at Cincy Jungle, at the CJ Facebook account and/or on the OBI YouTube page for the live recordings. Otherwise, get the show afterward however you enjoy your podcasts!
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