Andy Dalton has caught some criticism lately, but is it warranted?
Some interesting input from fans and NFL pundits alike have surfaced lately and these comments should either be rebutted or upheld.
Let's take a look at some of the comments and facilitate a determination as to whether they are spot-on or way off-base.
Matt Williamson, an NFL scout for ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. had these comments about Dalton:
Hey #bengals fans, Sanchez took his team to playoffs too...
— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) February 20, 2013
Dalton muc better than Sanchez, but saying he went to playoffs isnt enough for me to be satisfied...limited passer who isnt accurate enough
— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) February 20, 2013
Well, Matt, here's the thing. It is a fact that when Dalton is under duress or moving outside of the pocket, he becomes severely less accurate than when he is stationary.
However, Dalton posted a 62.3 completion percentage in 2012 which was good enough for 12th in the league. There are two quarterbacks ranked just above Dalton with a 63.0 completion percentage. They would happen to be Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
With the amount of weapons that these other quarterbacks have at their disposal and Dalton having to rely almost solely on A.J. Green, it appears that he is in good company.
Pro Football Focus had this statistic on Dalton to which there were some mixed reviews:
Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick were the fastest QBs to get rid of the ball in 2012. Both averaged 2.4 seconds per attempt
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 20, 2013
Some Bengals fans were instantly clamoring about how quick of a release Dalton has which makes his skill set far superior to those of other NFL quarterbacks. Not so fast.
Getting rid of the ball and owning a quick release are two far different things. Yes, Dalton does have a very quick release which is a great thing for a young quarterback. But throwing the ball so quickly means that Dalton is not going through his progressions and staying patient in the pocket.
With an NFL caliber quarterback, you would like to see your team's gunslinger in the top third of the league, not at the top. There should be an equal balance of a quick release along with going through reads to find the best available target.
This statistic really is not boasting about Dalton and should not be taken as such. Instead, this is one area in which Dalton severely needs to improve as we move toward the 2013 season.
This next tweet comes from SB Nation's Joe Goodberry who has a different comparison for Dalton:
Some of you think I've been too harsh on Dalton by comparing him to Kyle Orton, but you should check what @williamsonnfl is saying.
— Joe Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) February 20, 2013
This statement rings true by Mr. Goodberry. He may be a little too harsh comparing Dalton to Kyle Orton. However, these two quarterbacks share a similar history as starters.
Dalton's 2012 stats are as follows: 3,669 yards for a 62.3 completion percentage, 27 touchdowns, 16 interceptions for a passer rating of 87.4.
Orton's stats with the Denver Broncos in 2009 (his only full year as a starter) are as follows: 3,802 yards for a 62.1 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions for a passer rating of 86.8.
These stats are eerily similar, although there is one thing that Dalton has in his favor. He is currently trending upwards, while that season was the best Orton had as a professional.
Not following? Let's look at it from another angle.
Dalton has increased his production significantly since his rookie season in 2011 and will look to once again improve upon his numbers in 2013. Even though he struggled at the end of the season in 2012, there are no indications of this continuing into the new year.
As for Orton, his next season saw declined numbers and he was eventually replaced by Tim Tebow. He has been a backup in the NFL ever since.
This means that we are comparing Dalton's rise to Orton's peak. Although this may seem like a great comparison numbers-wise, there is far more upside with Dalton.
Finally, we have this tweet from Bleacher Report's own Andrea Hangst:
Is Andy Dalton the NFL's next Joe Flacco? bleacherreport.com/articles/15283…
— Andrea Hangst (@FBALL_Andrea) February 13, 2013
This tweet was linking a recent article by Andrea comparing Dalton to Joe Flacco. Personally, it is a fantastic read.
If there is one quarterback who could compare to Dalton throughout the same time frame of his career, it would be Flacco.
Yes, they have differences. Dalton has a quicker release, Flacco has a stronger arm, etc. But consider the teams that they play for and the personnel on each.
Both had a great defense through their first two years, both have had only one major receiving threat. Also, each have had a decent running game to get behind and both made the playoffs in each of their first two seasons.
Yes, this brings back the knock on Dalton that he has not won a playoff game. However, there are many other factors that attribute to a playoff win. Dalton did not play very well, but Flacco was not much better in his first two appearances.
So, what does this all say about Dalton and his future with the Bengals?
It seems as though most reactions have stemmed from the latter half of the Bengals' 2012 campaign. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden could not find an identity for his offense and rolled toward the running game later in the year.
This threw off the entire scheme on the offensive side of the ball. Keep in mind that while this was a passing offense, Dalton was ranked highly among quarterbacks in the league in all major categories.
So what will happen when this offense finally finds consistency? Currently, it seems as though Dalton is headed for a Flacco-type career. However, given the right scheme and another added reliable weapon on offense, who is to say his ceiling is very far off from even more highly regarded quarterbacks in the NFL?
Dalton is entering his third season in 2013, which is a very telling time for NFL quarterbacks. This coming year will decide exactly who called it right when it comes to Andy Dalton.