When trying to come up with an ideal trajectory for the career of a young quarterback, the best-case scenario is to see a bit of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in his future—a Super Bowl ring, maybe more than one; a host of broken records in his name; a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame enshrinement; an unprecedentedly high payday. These are the stuff of quarterback dreams, something everyone who plays the position at the professional level someday hopes to achieve.
However, that's not the case for the vast majority of NFL passers. Take the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton, for example. It doesn't look like he's going to become the second coming of Manning, but that doesn't really matter—not when Joe Flacco's present-day success seems to be in his future.
"Flacco?" you ask, wondering why on earth that would be the career path that Dalton would best follow. Well, it's simple: Because his first two years in the league seem to almost completely match up with what Flacco did in his first two seasons. And, after all, in his fifth year in the league, Flacco help lead the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl win. Dalton wouldn't mind that, at all.
In Flacco's five years on the job, every season his Ravens have made it to the playoffs. So far, in Dalton's two, the Bengals too have made it to the playoffs. While they haven't yet won a postseason game—the Ravens had five playoff wins in those first two years of the Flacco era—there are a lot of reasons to think that Dalton will travel the same path that Flacco forged, even if the scenery is a bit different along the way.