AJ McCarron Defends Andy Dalton Amid Criticism from Bengals Fans

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2017

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron, left, and quarterback Andy Dalton talk before a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

AJ McCarron and Andy Dalton may be in direct competition for the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback job, but McCarron refused to throw his teammate under the bus following the team's 0-2 start.  

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. shared McCarron's comments in support of Dalton:

"I wish people would in this city would back him and go with it. Listen, I think I'm a great quarterback and I think he's an unbelievable quarterback. I love him to death. But he's our quarterback. Stop making it into something else. It's not into something else. Ride with him. Trust the team. Trust the process. And trust what we are trying to do. And be a fan of who is playing. We are all part of a team."

The Bengals already fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after failing to score a touchdown in their first two games. If head coach Marvin Lewis was that quick to bring the axe down on one of his assistants, then a quarterback change isn't out of the question.

Dehner noted, though, that Lewis has been loath to court quarterback controversies in the past. Most famously, he refused to bring on Carson Palmer to replace Jon Kitna during his rookie year in 2003 despite plenty of eagerness from the fanbase to get Palmer on the field.

While Dalton is 36-of-66 for 394 yards and four interceptions, Lewis remains committed to the seven-year veteran.

"I think we have to continue to let Andy do his thing," Lewis said after last Thursday's 13-9 defeat to the Houston Texans, per NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman. "We've got to do things better around him all the time. Again, we're not good enough today. We didn't play good enough to win on offense and we gave up a play on defense that we can't give up."

What's somewhat concerning, though, is Dalton may be losing the faith of his teammates. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Sunday the "leash isn't quite so long" with regard to how much the Bengals players will put up with Dalton's struggles. Florio added some inside the locker room have thrown out Colin Kaepernick as an option to replace Dalton.

With Zampese gone, there are fewer people to answer for Cincinnati's offensive futility. Should that continue under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Lewis may have no choice but to give McCarron a shot to start under center.


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