Only because it hasn’t been fully understood yet. But we’re definitely getting there! I know a lot people reading this are already there and don’t need to be reminded, but for the others, a quick refresher:
The Bengals lost another game in the 2019 season. They lost primarily because their starting quarterback couldn’t outplay the opposing quarterback and gave away too many opportunities for points.
Andy Dalton has started 11 games this season. This is the ninth time his EPA/Play was lower than the quarterback he faced and the seventh time his QBR was lower. This week’s quarterback just happened to be Tom Brady of all people, who continued to look like age was catching up to him quickly. Despite this, Brady’s EPA/Play of -0.05 ended up making Dalton’s -0.32 EPA/Play look that much worse.
This headline shouldn’t exist in the NFL, yet it does this week.
Tom Brady posts 4.41 YPA in easy victory https://t.co/QZoJaweGkG— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) December 15, 2019
It wasn’t an easy victory because of Brady, who was horrendously inaccurate throughout the majority of this game. He ended up on the winning side because his defense scored seven points on their own from a pick-six and gifted him great field position from two additional turnovers that resulted in an additional 10 points.
Once the offense’s play-calling script ran out after the first two drives, it became Dalton’s responsibility to match the adjustments the Patriots’ defense made. Joe Mixon rushed for over 100 yards but finished with negative EPA/Play (-0.02) as well, which not only tells you how inconsequential some box score stats can be, but also had little importance he had on winning this game compared to Dalton.
When the Patriots started containing Mixon and forcing Dalton to beat them, things went exactly like they planned. Three third quarter interceptions later and the another winnable game was thrown down into the trash because of the quarterback.
The fact that a 21-point loss to the team with the best defense in the NFL was considered competitive for most of the game is a further indictment on the losing team’s most important player. The defense limited the Patriots from creating explosive plays when it mattered and when it came down to carrying the offense all the way to the finish line, much like their Week 3 loss to the Bills, they couldn’t do it.
Even in their biggest defeat in over a month, the Bengals provided more proof that they’re just a good quarterback away from making significant progress. Dalton continues to validate that every week, and the Bengals can’t ignore that no matter how the remaining two weeks look.