Dalton's sophomore campaign has been a solid one thus far, statistically. He has thrown for 1,726 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions, totaling a stellar 91.7 rating while completing 66 percent of his passes.
While Dalton's numbers are nice, the film tells a different story. The sophomore has made some serious rookie mistakes in certain situations that have seriously hurt the Bengals. Let's review three of Dalton's most boneheaded turnovers of the 2012 season thus far.
Week 5 vs. Miami Dolphins
The Bengals were down 7-6 and facing a third down early in the second half. Dalton comes out with two receivers to his right and Brian Leonard in the backfield next to him for protection. The outside receiver at the top of the screen, Armon Binns, is going to run a streak route off the screen while slot receiver Andrew Hawkins is going to run a comeback route at the first-down marker.
Dalton is immediately pressured as a result of right tackle Andre Smith getting embarrassed. Dalton elects to stare down Hawkins, but fails to notice Miami defensive lineman Randy Starks is watching his eyes and waiting to swat or intercept a low pass.
Feeling the pressure, Dalton locks on and fires an extremely low pass that is easily intercepted by the 305-pound defensive tackle. What could have potentially been more effective is if Dalton had escaped the pocket and ran with Hawkins while delivering a ball free of traffic.
We're used to seeing Dalton escape these situations and make successful throws on the run, and that could have worked here with the way Hawkins was extending the route.
Week 1 vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals were in the process of being embarrassed by the Ravens on Monday Night Football down 27-13 with the third quarter winding down, but Dalton somehow managed to make that worse.
Cincinnati again lined up with Leonard next to Dalton with Binns and Hawkins out to his left. Brandon Tate was at the bottom of the screen and runs a streak route. The target of the play, tight end Jermaine Gresham, was set on the line next to right tackle Andre Smith.
The Ravens rush five and Dalton immediately latches on to Gresham running a route right up the middle of the hash marks, realizing that the only Ravens defender moving to cover him is the aging Ray Lewis.
Dalton, without being under intense pressure yet, throws a high pass that the 6'5 Gresham can barely get his fingertips on at its highest point. Gresham tips the ball and the ball-hawking safety Ed Reed returns the interception for a touchdown.
While Dalton made the correct read in attacking Lewis with his under-utlilized tight end, he made a horrible throw that almost appeared as if he couldn't decide whether to throw to Gresham or Tate, who was streaking down the field.
Week 3 vs. Washington Redskins
Up 7-0 early in the first quarter, Dalton and the Bengals found themselves in their own end zone. Dalton lined up under center and motioned A.J. Green to the bottom of the screen.
The Bengals elected to pass in this situation, which was probably a good idea considering the Redskins had eight defenders in the box.
The eventual target of Dalton's pass was running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who would run out into the flat after the receiver cleared the defensive back out of the way.
Dalton is immediately pressured by elite pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan and is forced to go with his hot read, Green-Ellis. Redskins outside linebacker Rob Jackson, the man responsible for Green-Ellis, realized quickly what is happening and moves into position to jump a passing route.
Dalton, under pressure, throws a loft pass that is nowhere near where it needs to be for Green-Ellis to make a catch, and Jackson is able to make a cut after reading Dalton's eyes and intercepts the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Dalton has been solid so far for Cincinnati, but as the above film shows, he still has a bad habit of staring down his intended receiver rather than progressing through reads. Consistency is still an issue, as is accuracy.
Part of the issue for Dalton is still arm strength, not in the sense of how far he can throw it, but how much zip he can put on passes to get them exactly where he needs them.
Dalton is inconsistent and clearly still learning. He's faced some extremely talented defenses so far in 2012, and they have taken advantage.
It's nowhere close to time to panic with Dalton; as these issues should iron themselves out over time. There's a lot of season left, which means Dalton and the Bengals have plenty of time to correct issues like the ones above.