This is not a knee-jerk reaction to Dalton's miserable performance on Thursday night against the rival Cleveland Browns. It would be untrue to say that Dalton's 30.3 percent completion rate, three interceptions and 2.0 passer rating in the 24-3 loss didn't play a part in this strong statement, though.
The debacle against the intrastate rival was simply the last straw.
Dalton's inconsistency has plagued his time as the Bengals' starting quarterback. Thursday's game was the third time Dalton has thrown two or more interceptions in a game this season.
That's also the same amount of times he's thrown two or more touchdowns.
In 2013, Dalton threw for two or more scores 10 times, but in four of those games, he was picked off at least twice. He threw multiple interceptions in a game a total of five times last season. Counting the postseason, he has thrown multiple picks in 19 games.
While we're talking about the playoffs...playoffs?!? We're talking about the playoffs.
Dalton is 0-3 in the second season and has thrown just one touchdown pass to six interceptions. He is 27 years old and in his fourth full season as the man in Cincinnati.
He has one of the game's best wide receivers in A.J. Green, a talented running back in Giovani Bernard and his offensive line has provided him with above-average protection.
He's been dumped 11 times in nine games this season. Only three quarterbacks who have started at least eight games have been sacked fewer times.
At that pace, he'd be sacked just under 22 times at the end of the year. Through his career, that would equate to taking 30 sacks per season.
To put that into perspective, San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick has been sacked 27 times already in 2014, and Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill led the league in that statistic in 2013 with 58.
Dalton can blame no one for his struggles. He is as good as he'll ever be, and that's not good enough to lead a team to a title.
If Not Andy, Then Who?
Right now, the Bengals' backup is veteran Jason Campbell. He's far from a long-term solution, but he could provide a spark for an offense that is obviously struggling.
In the Bengals' losses—that have all come in the last six weeks—the team is averaging just 6.7 points per game. That's obviously not going to get it done.
The AFC North is nip-and-tuck. Lewis can't afford to allow his team to fall off the pace.
When given the opportunity in 2013 with the Browns, Campbell showed some flashes. He had three games with a QB rating above 100. Ultimately, the Bengals will have to see what they have in rookie AJ McCarron, but that experiment might have to wait until next season.
A stint on the non-football injury list likely put McCarron too far behind the curve to make much of an impact this season. In any case, Lewis and the Bengals organization have to realize that Dalton is not the man to lead them to postseason glory.
Knowing when to cut your losses is just as valuable as recognizing a good thing.
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.