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PFF ranks Andy Dalton as a middle-of-the-pack starting quarterback

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Pro Football Focus valued the Bengals’ signal caller as a third-tier starter, meaning he needs good playmakers and play-callers to help him.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Going into his ninth year in the NFL, Bengals fans know what to expect out of Andy Dalton. He is a smart, well-coached quarterback that can help a team win some football games. Dalton is the most successful when he gets the ball out of his hands quickly and isn’t forced to improvise.

If you put him in different system, like Kansas City’s for example, would he put up the same kinds of numbers? Definitely not.

But in the right system, he can he do enough to get his team to the playoffs seven times in a row.

Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks, and Andy Dalton’s evaluation is exactly what you would expect.

Dalton ranked in the third tier, which was the largest of he four tiers they assembled. The third tier was quarterbacks who are “Volatile or conservative quarterbacks whose production will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and play calling. Tier 3 quarterbacks can post top-10 production in any given year in the right situation.”

Here’s what they said about Andy Dalton:

There was a point in Dalton’s career in which he was the poster child for “average” quarterback, with his 2015 season the perfect example of a group of excellent skill players being able to elevate him to top-10 production. However, an influx of similar talents has pushed Dalton down the list of rankings in recent years. He got off to a good start last year, showing off his usual quick release and solid accuracy while sprinkling in a few off-script plays that have been needed for a while in order to elevate his game. A new scheme may instill even more life into Dalton’s game, and head coach Zac Taylor and company must take advantage of Dalton’s accuracy in between the numbers, particularly on seam routes.

Dalton’s game comes down to two things: a supporting cast and play calling.

His best season was undeniably 2015. That year, he had a healthy A.J. Green, he had Tyler Eifert for 13 games, a solid duo of secondary wide receivers, a couple of Pro Bowlers on his offensive line, and a brilliant offensive coordinator.

In 2016, his play plummeted.

Green and Eifert missed half the season, Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu signed elsewhere in free agency, Andrew Whitworth was replaced with Cedric Ogbuehi, and the offensive coordinator went on to be the head coach of the Browns.

This doesn’t mean that Andy Dalton is a bad quarterback. There’s a reason there are more quarterbacks in the third tier than in the other two tiers combined.

All this means is that the Bengals have to take advantage of his strengths and try to minimize his weaknesses.

That’s why Zac Taylor has built an offense around him that he thinks will help him succeed. He knows that you can’t just install any offense for Dalton. Ken Zampese learned that the hard way.

As long as you see what you have in Dalton and help him out, he can win you more games than he will lose you.