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The Chronicle: Debating Andy, payroll efficiency and Bengals hall of fame

We take a look at several topics in this week's Chronicle, from another debate regarding Andy Dalton, to the team's poor payroll efficiency and Bengals gear in the Hall of Fame.

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+ Andy Benoit ranked his top quarterbacks last weeklisting Bengals quarterback as the 20th best passer in the NFL. Obviously you're considering a rebuttal -- how can a four-year quarterback with four postseason appearances place at a number that's considered below average? "Outstanding before the snap but can be a total crapshoot after it," writes Benoit, who also had a ranking for running backs with Jeremy Hill at No. 10 and Giovani Bernard at No. 12.

Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Dalton is singlehandedly responsible for pushing Cincinnati into the playoffs during each season of his first four seasons -- a milestone that only two quarterbacks (joining Joe Flacco) have achieved during the Super Bowl era. There's a Mike Zimmer defense with a once-frightening pass rush, a top-flight offensive line and a four-time pro bowl wide receiver often viewed as a rare talent to consider. That being said, Dalton stacks up with most quarterbacks in franchise history. His .633 winning percentage is best among those with at least 10 starts and owns the franchise mark for most yards (4,293) and touchdowns thrown (33).

However, the narrative is that Dalton is terrible and should be replaced -- the talking point usually circles around his declining dead cap number. If Cincinnati releases Dalton this season, they'd be on the hook for $13.6 million of dead cap money. If the Bengals release Dalton in 2016, the dead cap is reduced to $7.2 million, saving the team $5.9 million against the cap because the roster bonuses have exhausted out. While Cincinnati won't escape dead money against the cap until 2019, there will be a savings after 2015 with a dead cap number far less imposing. It's been a popular talking point since details of Dalton's contract were released after signing his six-year extension on Aug. 4, 2014.

This narrative detracts from the more concerning talking point regarding Dalton's impotency during high-profile games. In 14 primetime and postseason games played, Dalton is 3-11 as the Bengals starting quarterback with 12 interceptions, 24 turnovers (17 interceptions, seven fumbles) and a passer rating of 66.2. Blah, blah, blah. We know.

Despite stories on this very site that Dalton is under intense pressure (hereherenot here), it's a dramatic headline, but it's almost illogical in nature. Dalton is under no more pressure than head coach Marvin Lewis, or coordinators Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther. Rehabilitating from injuries after signing long-term deals, Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict need a significant rebound years. To a lesser degree, Dre Kirkpatrick, Russell Bodine, Mohamed Sanu and even A.J. Green are facing varying amounts of pressure.

Don't let these expressions fool you. I have an almost neutral opinion on Dalton; my expectations are nonexistent; the "here we go again" response has given way to quiet acceptance. How can one have heartbreak after a poor postseason when your heart is already broken? I'm in my 30s now; words like "hope" and "dreams" seem childish. Yet should we accept that Dalton is worse than Oakland's Derek Carr, Kansas City's Alex Smith, or Chicago's Jay Cutler? What has Ryan Tannehill done? Carson Palmer might be more talented but is he the most effective? Palmer won 46 games in Cincinnati and it took him seven years to get there; Dalton is entering his fifth season with 40 wins already notched. Again, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Dalton is singlehandedly responsible for these wins but he's also not singlehandedly responsible for engineering moments of doom.

+ A group of "nerds" released a study ranking the most cost-efficient teams of the big three (MLB, NFL and NBA). accumulated data dating back 15 years to find the "smartest spenders" that's "based on financial efficiency". "In our analysis, we counted regular season victories over the past 15 years and factored in whether the team had won any championships to create an 'adjusted wins' total for each franchise," the website NerdWallet.com writes.

We then divided each team’s share of the league’s total adjusted wins since 2000 by the team’s share of the league’s total payroll over that same time. This gave us a payroll efficiency index with an average score of 1. The more financially efficient a team is, the higher the index number.

The study ranks the Bengals at No. 70 with a payroll efficiency index of 0.861; despite the team's overall successes since 2010 and their supposed-superior scouting, taking into account were the awful teams prior to 2003 and a few years in the late 2000s.

+ Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Anthony Munoz might be Cincinnati's only Hall of Fame player, but the Bengals have had several pieces of history displayed in Canton:

  • Full uniform including jersey, pants, and helmet of OT Anthony Munoz during the last season of his Hall of Fame career.
  • Coach Paul Brown’s "signature" hat he wore on the sidelines.
  • QB Boomer Esiason’s jersey from his MVP season in 1988.
  • RB Corey Dillon’s jersey from Oct. 12, 1997 when he established a rookie single-game rushing record vs. Tennessee.
  • Jersey, pants, and shoes worn by Dillon on Oct. 22, 2000 when he set the then-NFL record of 278 rushing yards in Bengals’ 31-21 win vs. Denver Broncos.
  • The football used on the opening kickoff of the Bengals’ inaugural regular season home game on Sept. 14, 1968. Cincinnati defeated Denver, 24-10.
  • Jerseys worn by RB Archie Griffin and CB Ken Riley.
  • Backrest of seat from Cinergy Field, formerly Riverfront Stadium.
  • Autographed metal bucket from groundbreaking ceremony of Paul Brown Stadium. Signatures include those of Mike Brown, Hamilton County Commissioners Bob Bedinghaus and Tom Neyer, and Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls.
  • Shovel used for the groundbreaking of Paul Brown Stadium, which took place on Cincinnati’s riverfront on April 25, 1998.
  • Framed water color drawing of WR Isaac Curtis.
  • Draft cards. The cards were written on by a team representative and turned into NFL officials to identify each draft pick.