The NFL is a tricky league. While teams leave no stone unturned in their search for talent, certain moves within organizations just don’t always turn out as expected. We learned a few things in this weekend’s Wild Card games. Some were obvious, perhaps things we already knew…
Andrew Luck is a special athlete.
The Chargers have the potential to make a Raven-esque run.
Andy Dalton isn’t the answer for the Bengals.
Watching Dalton’s Sunday battle against San Diego, I think we all saw the Bengals’ quarterback in a nutshell. He isn’t the best young quarterback in the game; he isn’t the best in the AFC North; and most importantly, he shouldn’t be Cincinnati’s future.
Think about it… Are the Bengals really ready going to give Andy Dalton a contract extension similar to the one Jay Cutler was dealt? We are talking about a player, who with 48 games under his belt has just a 51.5 QBR (ESPN stat). He’s far from clutch, and the prospect of him getting “elite QB” numbers is absurd.
When you make the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season. The point is clear—everyone is 0-0 at the start of the postseason. When you get on the big stage, you’re expected to perform. Dalton hasn’t done that. It’s pretty simple.
This isn’t a new idea. It’s been mounting ever since Dalton came into the league. He just isn’t an intelligent quarterback. Can we really pinpoint one area of his game that lacks in skill? No. Just one thing has been incredibly documented since day one—he doesn’t play with smarts.
The decisions he makes are atrocious and if someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a starter because of his poor decisions, Dalton could soon find himself in the same boat.
A team like the Bengals should have no problem winning at least one playoff game over the last three years, and they probably would have by now if it weren’t for Dalton’s seven turnovers in those three losses. Remember that 2012 game in Houston? A 44.7 quarterback rating with a 46.7 completion percentage isn’t going to cut it. As Seton O’Connor from The Dan Patrick Show pointed out, Dalton is the Bengals’ all-time leader in playoff turnovers.
This isn’t a brand new trend. Dalton’s four Bowl Games at TCU in college were pretty ugly as well. He only threw two touchdowns in four games with five interceptions.
According to Rotoworld.com, Dalton is due less than $1 million in 2014 before becoming a free agent after next season. What decision will the Bengals make? Do they see how next year turns out? Do they call it quits already? Do they mull over the possibility of firing Marvin Lewis?
There was an article on Yahoo! earlier this week about the possibility of firing Marvin Lewis and moving on from the longtime coach. To be truthful, there’s absolutely no reason why Lewis needs to be canned. Frankly, there’s no reason to even think about it.
Did Lewis turn the ball over three times on Sunday in a game that could have easily been won?
Did Lewis complete just 14 of 30 passes in the Bengals’ 2012 playoff game against Houston?
Did Lewis throw three picks in 2011 against the Texans?
I didn’t think so…
Lewis and his staff brought in Dalton and gave him an arsenal of weapons to work with. If it weren’t for injuries on the defensive side of the football, they might have been a Super Bowl team (barring the Dalton meltdown, of course).
To say that Lewis is to blame for Cincinnati’s struggles is silly. The players are there—the execution by the guy under center is not.
2014 might be “the year” for Dalton. Not many guys have make-or-break seasons in just their fourth season, but I find it hard to believe that the team will keep him around if he fails to win a playoff game for four straight years; meaning that he will press. The pressure will be on more than ever, and the key games will decide who Dalton is as a quarterback.
If I’m in the AFC North, I’m thrilled that the Bengals lost. Guys on the defensive side of the football thrive off of pressure and disrupting the players on the other side of the ball. Trying to be perfect and make big plays, Dalton is going to throw a bit differently in the regular season in 2014. He has no other choice but to make the playoffs. Every game will mean something. If his past games are any indication, the weight of next season’s game might prove to be too much for the young quarterback.
If I’m John Harbaugh and the Ravens, I’m optimistic about the way things are shaping up around the North. Cleveland is going to be young and under another new head coach, Pittsburgh will take next year to develop their young stars into a team (one that could be dangerous in 2015), and Cincinnati has more pressure on them than any other team in the AFC. It might not seem like much, but it only takes one bad decision by Dalton to lose a game…hopefully, one against the Ravens.
Dalton has shown his true colors. He isn’t a clutch quarterback, and barring a monumental run next January, he doesn’t deserve a new contract in 2015. Might that actually favor the Ravens and those around the North?