Andy Dalton is synonymous to an evil monster that sucks the life out of innocent children when it comes to playoff games. A bit much for an introduction? You know the story. You know the statistics. In three postseason games since entering the league, Dalton has completed 70 of 123 passes (56.9 percent) for 718 yards (239.3 yards/game) with a touchdown pass (a four-yarder to Jermaine Gresham in the first quarter against the Chargers). However, he's also thrown six interceptions and fumbled the football three times -- he only lost one (the falling-down-untouched fumble against the Chargers). Worst quarterback ever or has no help around him? Whatever the reason, it's part of a greater sum.
ESPN Coley Harvey writes that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson expects a winning quarterback.
For offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, it's faith in his quarterback that has him believing the Bengals will go into Indianapolis on Sunday and win to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1990 season. His expectations are that nothing less will occur.
"I expect a winning quarterback, period," Jackson said inside his Paul Brown Stadium office Monday afternoon. "It's time to win. It's winning time.
Quick NOTE: Was Jackson referring to the end result or the generic chemistry of the position?
For as much as we want to place all of this on Andy Dalton's shoulders, that's both unfair and unrealistic. Cincinnati's postseason issues haven't always been just about Dalton. A John Stockton-sized assist includes the shocking decline of Cincinnati's defense -- specifically against the running game. Cincinnati's rush defense is allowing 180.1 yards rushing per game over the last three postseasons, with five combined touchdowns allowed. Arian Foster dominated the first two games in '11 and '12, while the Chargers used the trio of Ronnie Brown, Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead.
But that's not Jackson's concern.
A.J. Green, possibly missing the game with a concussion, is Jackson's concern. Having to adjust without having Marvin Jones or Tyler Eifert all season, is Jackson's concern. Having four starting right tackles is... also his concern. Finding anyone, ANYONE to step up at wide receiver, would be nice.
Thinking for a minute... Since the last time that Cincinnati has played Indianapolis, Jackson will have helped revive a running game at his disposal that's led by Jeremy Hill. It's an offense that's surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark twice (Weeks 15 and 16) and four games with at least 170 yards since the last time Cincinnati faced the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to that, the Bengals have surpassed the 100-yard milestone in eight of the last 10 games this season. [NOTE: The Bengals are 0-4 when failing to reach the 100-yard rushing benchmark]
"We have a team that runs the football. We have an identity," said Jackson via Fox Sports Ohio. "Hopefully we'll have all of our guys who are able to play back and ready to play. I don't think A.J. played the first time we played them. I know Jeremy Hill was not the starter the first time we played them."
Green was not active (he was dealing with a toe) and Hill carried the football four times -- actually it was only twice, both in the second quarter... the other two carries were in the fourth quarter during mop-up duty when the Colts had a 24-0 lead.
Per the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Playing without Green, the Colts crowded the line of scrimmage and forced starting receivers Dane Sanzenbacher and Brandon Tate to beat one-on-one coverage along with Mohamed Sanu to shake Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis.
The receivers finished with five receptions on 17 targets for 74 yards.
"We didn't run the football, we threw it a whole lot and didn't seem to make much ground with it and we kept getting ourselves in third-and-eight or more," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "Any time you do that against any NFL defense, you're going to have a long day, but that one especially."