The Bengals have a starting NFL quarterback on their roster in Andy Dalton. He’s not great. He’s not bad. But he is starter-worthy, and he’s signed for a few more seasons.
Despite this, the Bengals could always look to upgrade – it’s always beneficial to upgrade from decent to great, or even to good.
But the Bengals have been hesitant to upgrade at quarterback in past drafts. In 2017, they passed on both Patrick Mahomes (2018 NFL MVP) and Deshaun Watson, to stick with Dalton and draft John Ross. In 2018, they passed on Lamar Jackson (I know, I know, some of you love him, some of you don’t) to stick with Dalton and draft Billy Price.
So, the Bengals have had opportunities to look to the future and attempt an upgrade the position. But they have ‘passed’ on the opportunity.
So, what makes the 2019 NFL Draft any different? Why all the talk about the Bengals suddenly willing to look at upgrading the position when they still have Dalton on the roster, and under contract for a couple more years at that?
The reason is because the Bengals have a new head coach. The Bengals have a new offensive coordinator, too. In fact, just about every coach on the Bengals staff is new.
And over the past few months, we have been told that a new head coach means a new quarterback It’s been ingrained in us that a new coach always wants to get “his guy” when he takes over a team. Because that’s what they do.
But is that what they do?
Well, let’s check and see. Is this really true, or is this one of these myths like branding the medieval period as the “dark” ages, where the popular notion doesn’t match the facts?
In 2018, there were seven new NFL head coaches. So, that means there should have been seven teams who had a new coach looking to “get their guy”.
But how many of them did that?
That’s right, only one of those seven teams drafted a quarterback in the first round last year. It was the Arizona Cardinals, who drafted Josh Rosen. Of the seven teams, only two others even bothered to draft a quarterback at all – the Giants selected one in the fourth round, and the Titans grabbed one in the sixth round.
Interesting, but maybe 2018 was an outlier. Let’s go back another year. What about 2017?
That year, there were six new head coaches in the NFL. Of those six teams, a total of ZERO drafted a first-round quarterback. Only two of them selected a quarterback at all, with the Bills drafting one in the fifth round and the Broncos drafting one in the seventh round (with John Elway continuing the Broncos perpetual search for the next, well, the next John Elway).
So that means over the past two seasons, with a total of 13 head coaching changes, only one of those new regimes went and “got their guy”. Quarterback-loving Jon Gruden didn’t go “get his guy”. Neither did the Giants with an aging Eli Manning, nor the Jaguars with Blake Bortles. And so on.
Ok, ok, but let’s go back one more year. Let’s look at 2016. Surely we’ll find why the media keeps telling us that new head coaches always go “get their guy” in the draft, right?
In 2016, there were seven head coaching changes. Of those seven teams, only one of them selected a first round quarterback, with the Eagles drafting Carson Wentz. Only half of the remaining teams even drafted a quarterback at all.
The Browns selected one in the third round, the 49ers drafted current Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel in the sixth round, and the Dolphins took one in the seventh round.
Summing it all up, of the 20 head coaching changes that have taken place in the last three seasons, only TWO of those teams drafted a quarterback in the first round. Only 10% of the teams used their top pick to go “get their guy”. And less than half of them even bothered to draft a quarterback at all – and of the ones that did, they usually selected one at the tail end of the draft.
So, what does it all mean?
It means we can probably stop the hysteria that the Bengals are going to draft Dwayne Haskins, or any of the other quarterbacks in the first round, because they have a new head coach, and that’s what new head coaches do.
Will we stop with the nonsense?
But at least now we know it is nonsense.