It is time for the Bengals to move on from Andy Dalton, sorry, not sorry. Dalton has been a mess this year and the team needs a new direction.
In earlier articles I have addressed the recent history of first-round quarterbacks and when to draft a quarterback. This article will get more into the “why” and will specifically address any possible arguments to the contrary.
Argument against: Dalton is good enough/They should build around him.
Retort: When Dalton had a good offensive coordinator, three talented receivers, and a good offensive line, he was a good enough. But even then, he had troubles on the national stage.
Now he is 31 and finds himself as part of a rebuild.
Dalton threw three interceptions in last week’s game against the Jaguars. Now through seven games, he’s up to eight interceptions, and only eight touchdowns.
At this point, the Bengals are actually losing games because of him. Throughout the season he has continuously missed receivers, exited clean pockets, and failed to keep drives alive by converting 3rd downs.
If he was playing well at all I could get behind the idea of building around him, but he is not.
Highest % of uncatchable passes at 10+ yards downfield:— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) October 23, 2019
1. Trubisky 57.4%
2. Lamar 45.1
3. Dalton 43.4
4. Stafford 42.2
5. Josh Allen 40.9
6. Daniel Jones 40.7
7. Brissett 40.0
8. Mahomes 39.8
9. Goff 38.7
10. Murray 38.0
Argument against: They have other needs—what about the defense?
Retort: Sure, they have other needs, but they don’t have greater needs.
The defense has a lot of issues, but as I detailed in an earlier article, that side of the ball is not losing them games every week.
They could certainly use a stud linebacker or another pass rusher, but the fact is that this defense is good enough to win football games.
The Bengals defense is ranked last in the NFL, but that statistic is based on yards not points. They are tied for 24th in points allowed per game. That still isn’t good, but they are tied with the 3-4 Eagles, giving up a point and a half per game more than the 5-2 Seahawks, and nearly a point per game ahead of the 3-3 Raiders.
All three of those teams are getting a lot more help from their offenses, while the Bengals defense is constantly on the field due to the offense’s failure to keep the chains moving.
Unlike the offense, the Bengals defense plays well in the red zone.
Yes, drafting a linebacker in the first round would help this team, but ask yourself this: Which player would make this team more competitive right now, Devin Bush or Kyler Murray?
I would argue that an upgrade at quarterback would have more impact on the defense than an upgrade at linebacker.
Through Week 7, these teams have the best defensive red zone efficiency. Only eight teams have allowed TDs on less than 50% of opponents' red zone trips.#GoPats #GoNiners #BroncosCountry #SeizeTheDEY #HereWeGo #DallasCowboys #DUUUVAL #GiantsPride— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 23, 2019
@gregcosell | @MattBowen41 pic.twitter.com/4T86h2WWQd
Argument against: Why would you put a rookie quarterback behind that offensive line?
Retort: Yes, the offensive line is terrible, but Dalton hasn’t been pressured nearly as much as you’d think. In fact, according to PFF, he has the seventh-lowest percentage of pressured dropbacks in the NFL. This is a bit hard to reconcile with the fact that the Bengals are tied for fourth-most sacks allowed, but the answer is simple.
Dalton has no pocket presence. He can’t avoid the rush.
The offensive line is a major problem, but a better quarterback would help to elevate their issues in pass protection.
The fact that they can’t open holes for Joe Mixon is another story altogether.
Per PFF, these are the 10 Quarterbacks that have seen the lowest percentage of pressured drop backs— JG (@JoeGoodberry) October 21, 2019
7. ANDY DALTON
Argument against: The Bengals don’t need to draft a quarterback, they have two rookie quarterbacks on their roster.
Retort: Like everybody else I would love to see Ryan Finley get some time this year and I like Jake Dolegala as a prospect, but one is a fourth-round pick and the other went undrafted, respectively. Unless Finley gets a chance and miraculously leads the team on a playoff run, there is no way that those guys should prevent a team from drafting a quarterback with a pick inside the top three.
Argument against: Andy Dalton is such a good guy. Great in the community.
Retort: I’m reminded of a portion of Alec Baldwin’s classic monologue from Glengarry Glen Ross: “Nice guy? I don’t give a %@#^. Good father? *%@! you, go home and play with your kids!”
Dalton is a great guy, there is no questioning that. But that has nothing to do with whether or not he should be the team’s starting quarterback. In no way do I mean to mitigate the positive things that Dalton has done both on and off the field, but from a football standpoint, it doesn’t matter.
The Bengals made a big move a year ago by hiring a new head coach and now it is time to move on at the quarterback position.
Though the team has other needs, none are more pressing than this. Drafting the right quarterback would be huge for this team and instantly make it more competitive while giving them a foundation to build on.