Bengals’ much-discussed, controversial QB Andy Dalton. One camp says he rescued a punch-drunk franchise reeling from a bolting Carson Palmer by logging three consecutive playoffs seasons – the other says he’s simply a weak-armed, bad decision-making, winless playoff QB with three ugly – oh, oh so ugly – post season meltdowns.
In which camp are you? Swear by Dalton – or swear at him?
As a Dalton doubter (not a hater), I’ve felt the slings and arrows on various Bengals Facebook pages and blogs for voicing questions about Andy’s ability to QB a Super Bowl winner. “Your a _ucking idiot,” one team fan posted. Okay, bad grammar aside it’s a pretty good insult. One of the kinder comments.
Coaching icon and Bengals’ villain Bill Walsh once said he needed two years to know Joe Montana would be the San Francisco 49ers‘ franchise quarterback. Walsh’s girthy understudy, Mike Holmgren, thinks the third year is when a starting quarterback should hit stride.
Did Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton hit stride last year?
Maybe the better questions are: Is this a career crossroads season for Dalton? A make or break year? If Dalton plays in ’14 exactly as he did last season – good, but occasionally bad in the regular season and overwhelmingly awful in the postseason – will he be regarded as a so-so quarterback who never really hit his stride? Just average? A lukewarm signal-caller on a team with white-hot talent?
Waiting around for a prospect to develop into a franchise quarterback creates risks for team decision-makers. Big bets made on Kevin Kolb, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez and others come to mind. Another wave of young starters – Nick Foles, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Geno Smith among them – carry the hopes of their franchises into the 2014 season.
The online back and forth seems to come down to this – Dalton is probably good enough to not cut, but is he good enough to QB a Super Bowl win? Is he?
If you ask some experts, there is no chance Dalton takes that avenue to success during this pivotal fourth season. Some say he is what he is, or so said ESPN insider scout Matt Williamson in fellow ESPN insider Mike Sando’s story about forecasting success for quarterbacks at a crossroads.
“He will be too good to cut and not good enough to win with. He wins three or four [games] a year for his team and loses one or two, but he is so much less gifted than all the other guys we are talking about here. Maybe if he was playing indoors, he could get away with it more.”
So what does a “make” year look like for Dalton? Chiefly, leading the Bengals to a playoff win or two. Secondarily, keeping his interception numbers in career-low territory while also surpassing his franchise-record 33-touchdown total from a year ago. If he does both those things, win in the postseason and have a favorable touchdown-interception ratio, he’ll have traveled down the right road.
Soon enough we’ll find out which path Dalton takes in this all-important make or break year at the crossroads.
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