Andy Dalton has been a steady presence with the Cincinnati Bengals since he first suited up with the team in 2011. Although Dalton has never shown himself to be a superstar NFL quarterback, he has given the Bengals more than eight seasons of solid, healthy play that may not get the respect it deserves in football circles. While many of the league’s best quarterbacks are constantly given something to work with, Dalton has made the best out of a less-than-ideal situation.
As the Bengals spiral down to 0-6, could a change be in the making for Bengals and their quarterback?
Andy Dalton’s rise
Dalton got his start at Texas Christian University. After red-shirting his first year struggling through his first two seasons, he looked like a different player as a junior. His touchdowns nearly doubled, at 23 compared to 11, and he threw for over 2,700 yards.
Adding to the improvement, Dalton only threw eight interceptions the entire year, which the Horned Frogs finished at 12-1. This was only an appetizer for fans, however. The next year, Dalton improved even more, throwing for 27 touchdowns and 2,857 yards against only six interceptions during a perfect 13-0 season.
These last two seasons were enough to get him interest from the NFL, and he went 35th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. He came into the league with a solid rookie season, throwing for nearly 3,400 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. This was enough for the Bengals to put their faith in him as their starter, and Dalton led the team to five straight years of .500 football.
His best year, a 2013 campaign in which he threw for 33 touchdowns and led the Bengals to an 11-5 record, showed that he could be a starting quarterback on a great team, although the Bengals failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs. This has been the problem for Dalton. Even in his best years, he has always struggled to lead the team anywhere past the first round, if that.
Fans who watch him often ask if this is a fault of Andy Dalton or the team that he plays for, and the question persists today.
Who’s to blame?
Dalton certainly isn’t Tom Brady, but nobody else is either. Unlike Brady, he does not have a consistently well-put-together roster that he can make things as easy as possible for him on a year-by-year basis. This is not to say that the two could switch spots and get the same results, but it shows how far playing for a good organization can go.
The Bengals have always struggled to put a good team around Andy Dalton. Robert Mays of The Ringer recently highlighted a play where Dalton led the team where it needed to go, got them into the red zone, then had the ball hit out of his hand thanks to some shoddy work by his offensive line. This, according to Mays, is exactly what Dalton has put up with since he entered the NFL.
recently highlighted a play where Dalton led the team where it needed to go, got them into the red zone, then had the ball hit out of his hand thanks to some shoddy work by his offensive line. This, according to Mays, is exactly what Dalton has put up with since he entered the NFL.
Dalton has had some good years, most of them in the first half of his career, but he has also been expected to take some terrible rosters through the season, and that is just unfair. Even his best games are often highlighted by the team’s inability to give him even a little bit of support.
What is Andy Dalton’s legacy?
Dalton will have a soft spot in the hearts of Bengals fans. Being their starting presence for nearly a decade will do that. Whether the end is near or Dalton can have a resurgence, history says that it will lead to him being forced to lead a mediocre roster over an insurmountable hill.
This is unfair to both he and his legacy. Nobody knows what Dalton’s legacy would be on a proper franchise. Alas, it is likely he will never get a fair legacy unless he gets a shot elsewhere.