QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
HT: 6-2, WT: 215, Born: 10-29-1987, College: TCU, Drafted: Round 2
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Stats and Week 21 Projection
|18||vs SD||L, 10-27||29||51||334||6.5||1||2||5||26||5.2||0||21|
Week 21 Injury Status and Other News
He was not listed on Friday's injury report.
Week 21 Matchup InfoThe Cincinnati Bengals have a bye this week.
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Game SummariesWeek 1 at CHI - Andy Dalton made a huge statement in todayís game. He has a bunch of young and improving weapons, and he made the most of them. Unfortunately, he was undone by a trio of big mistakes. On the first drive, Dalton threw a curl route to AJ Green. Peanut Tillman made a very aggressive move and came back to the ball, getting the INT. You canít put the blame solely on Dalton here. He should have noticed the tight coverage, but AJ Green didnít fight at all for the ball. Also, you just have to give credit to Tillman. He made a great play. Dalton responded by playing flawlessly the rest of the first half. He consistently hit the open receiver, moved the chain and made accurate throws. In the first half, he threw a deep ball to Green, and this time Green got the better of Tillman coming down with a long gain down the right sideline. Dalton was then victimized by a gaffe from Green. He threw a strike across the middle on a slant pass, and Green just couldnít make the reception, as the pass bounced off his hands and right into Tillmanís hands for his second INT of the game. This INT was 100% AJís fault, as the pass was on the money. Dalton rebounded and then late in the first half, Dalton made two amazing throws to AJ Green. On the first, Dalton was deep in his own territory, all the way on the right hash. He threw a deep out to the LEFT sideline between two defenders to AJ Green for a 21 yard first down. Arm strength problems? Nowhere to be seen. It was a bigtime NFL throw. Then a few plays later, he froze the cornerback (Jennings, not Tillman) with a beautiful pump-fake, and threw a bomb down the sideline into the hands of AJ Green for a 45 yard TD.
As the second half opened, Dalton led a long 7 minute drive culminating in a Green-Ellis TD. Dalton almost had a 3rd deep ball to Green on the drive, as he threw another bomb right into Greenís arms in the endzone. However, Tillman was called for interference, so Dalton didnít get a TD or the yardage. But the throw was on the money again.
On Daltonís final three drives, however, they were unable to get points. Two big mistakes did the offense in. On the first drive, a holding penalty set the Bengals too far back, and they were unable to convert. On the second drive, Sanu caught a pass from Dalton and fumbled the ball as he tried to make a move. This was the game-altering mistake, as Sanu crossed into the redzone right as he fumbled. The Bears promptly went down the field and scored a go-ahead TD. Then on the final drive, Dalton was under heavy pressure and took his first sack of the game. Amazingly the Bears offense then closed the game out with a game closing 6:38 drive and Dalton never saw the field again.
Dalton played tremendous in this one, and it appears he is well on his way to elite QB status.
Week 2 vs PIT - Daltonís history against Dick LeBeau and the Steelers has not been pretty. As we progressed through the first half, things were looking bad for Dalton. On the first drive, he completely overthrew everyone. He threw a deep ball to AJ Green that was in the wrong spot, although it appears the fault lied with Green. At least four times, Dalton had wide open receivers, and just completely missed them. As the game went to halftime, anyone that turned the game off was left with the impression that this was the same old Andy Dalton, struggling against a bigtime defense.
There is one first-half play that needs to be highlighted, though. On his long first-half toss to Tyler Eifert, Dalton was lasered in on Sanu the entire time, and even pump-faked in his direction. The Steelers were cognizant of the fact that Dalton stared down his receivers last year and had FOUR MEN guarding Sanu. Then Dalton switched over and hit a wide open Eifert down the center of the field. This type of progression from Dalton is what you hope to see.
In the second half, Dalton had over a 120 QB rating. He settled down and let his playmakers make plays. Perhaps part of the reason for this was that an obvious adjustment was made to the run/pass ratio, and the Bengals relied on the run a bit more in the second half. On the second drive, Dalton had three big passes that put the Bengals ahead for good. First he hit Gresham on a quick slant pass, and Gresham rumbled 26 yards for a first down. Then, under heavy pressure he quickly tossed the ball over the incoming defenders hands to Gresham for an 8 yard gain that saved the Bengals from a sack. Then on the next play he dumped it off over the middle to Giovani Bernard, who used his speed to elude two defenders and fly into the endzone for a 27 yard TD.
A 10 yard holding penalty derailed the next drive, and then Dalton calmly led the Bengals down for a field goal on a long six and a half minute drive to begin the fourth quarter. However, Daltonís propensity for getting passes knocked down bit him as a pass to AJ Green in the endzone was hit by a defender on the line. Dalton needs to continue to work on not telegraphing where he is going with the ball. He made strides in this game, but heís still a work in progress.
Then on the final drive, Dalton simply handed off to Green-Ellis 9 straight times to close out the game, not recording a single pass. Overall, Dalton was solid and efficient in the second half.
In the end, Dalton didnít turn the ball over, although he may have gotten a bit lucky, as his overthrows in the first half surprisingly didnít come back to harm his team. But in the second, he put the ball in the right spot and let his playmakers make plays. He still needs to work on his tendency to focus on AJ Green. If Sanu is going to be the receiver to take pressure off Green, Dalton has to look his way more. On the long drive that ended in a field goal, Dalton had four incompletions to Green. If he can continue to get his other playmakers involved, things will open up for AJ and Dalton will lead his team on more touchdown drives. Green was targeted fourteen times, despite heavy attention from the defense. Sometimes it is ok to allow your primary receiver to just be a decoy, and Dalton needs to do a better job of looking away from Green when he draws heavy coverage.
Week 3 vs GB - After getting the monkey off his back in a win against the Steelers, Dalton had the perfect opportunity to prove that he, and the Bengals, were ready to take the leap. A battle with Aaron Rodgers promised to be exciting. On the first drive, Dalton worked the short passing game well, and led the Bengals straight down the field for a TD. After a gift turnover from the Packers gave the Bengals another TD, Dalton now had a 14-0 lead and the pressure melted away. Unfortunately, Dalton and the entire offense then fell apart. The offense committed four straight turnovers on four straight possessions. Dalton was responsible for two. On the first, Dalton tried to force the ball on the edge to AJ Green, and Shields ripped it away for an INT. It was a poor decision and a poor throw. His second turnover happened during a scramble to get away from heavy pressure. Dalton escaped one defender, only to get stripped and lose another fumble. For the majority of the first half, Dalton looked shaky, out of sync with his receivers, and nervous. The Packers were bringing heavy pressure, and Dalton couldnít seem to get anything going late in the half, even after the turnovers mercifully stopped happening. However, the Cincinnati defense kept them in the game, continually holding the Packers out of the endzone and somehow keeping it to a 16-14 game at the half.
After Green Bay drove for an opening 2nd half TD, the pressure was on Dalton. This time he responded as he hit Eifert on a slant pass, threw a nice sideline toss to AJ, and then threw a slant to Sanu that went for a long gain. Unfortunately that drive stalled as well due to a dropped pass and the Packers added another field goal.
Dalton responded with two big drives that kept hope alive. He hit Marvin Jones across the middle, threw a pass to AJ on the sideline that also drew a 15 yard penalty, and then finished the drive with a beautiful 20 yard toss over Shields right into the hands of AJ Green for a TD. Then 2 series later, Dalton again goes after the cornerbacks, using intermediate routes to hit Marvin Jones and AJ Green to work the ball down the field. Then after a great end-zone fake by Marvin Jones, Dalton floated the ball right into the hands of Jones, who had left the defender in stitches, pulling the Bengals to within one score.
The Bengals then proceeded to win the game with a huge defensive TD and Dalton & company would go out with a win. However, you have to be concerned with the consistency. Green Bay did bring heavy pressure in this game, and at times it affected Dalton. He doesnít seem to have that security blanket to throw to when heís under heat, and as a result, he had a very inconsistent day. Also, if the defense had been anything but spectacular in the first half, this game would have been a total blow-out and Dalton would be facing heat this week.
But credit must be given where credit is due. Dalton led two big scoring drives and ultimately outplayed Aaron Rodgers, who made critical mistakes in the fourth quarter, while Dalton didnít. Now can we see Dalton build off of this big win and put together a great all-around game next week?
Week 4 at CLE - One week after beating Aaron Rodgers in a shootout, Dalton reverts and loses to Brian Hoyer and Cleveland. To be fair, Clevelandís defense is playing amazing, and Joe Haden shut down AJ Green. But Dalton did not bring his A game against this tough defense. He was erratic, he missed opportunities, he fumbled the ball and he threw an interception. Amazingly, Clevelandís offense did a solid job of controlling clock, and so the opportunities werenít numerous either. In a close physical game, you have to take advantage of opportunities. In the first half, a designed flea flicker allowed Sanu to get behind the defense, but Dalton underthrew the ball. A strike gets a TD. Sanu drew the PI, but the Bengals couldnít convert a 4th and 1 and the drive stalled. Towards the end of the first half, Green finally drew a matchup with Skrine instead of Haden. He smoked Skrine and broke free, and Dalton pitched it over his head. In the third quarter, the Bengals started moving the ball and converted two first downs. Then Dalton was sacked, and lost the ball. Then down 17-6, Dalton threw an errant pass, which was tipped and intercepted, ending another drive. The bottom line is that Dalton is surrounded by play-makers. Yes, the defense was great, and Haden played Green tough. But Dalton missed two huge opportunities and made two big mistakes. He also had 3-4 other balls that were just thrown poorly that damaged promising drives. In a physical game like this, you canít make these mistakes. This offensive output falls squarely on his shoulders.
Week 5 vs NE - Daltonís fantasy owners are probably thinking about cutting bait as they look at the low production that Dalton had on Sunday against the Patriots. However, Dalton has to be held onto after this week. Once again, Dalton has provided us with another Sunday full of question marks, some of them good and some of them bad. First of all, the bad. Dalton only led the Bengals to 13 points, and had a first half INT that looked like something an undrafted free agent would throw. After a solid drive to lead the Bengals inside the 20, Dalton was pressured and rolled toward the sideline. Instead of throwing it away, he turned and threw the ball across his body and into the center of the field for an interception. That rookie mistake killed a good drive. But Dalton rebounded. His next drive, he promptly worked the short passing game to perfection, leading the Bengals back down the field, before taking a sack that ended the drive. However, a field goal provided some crucial points in this close contest. After a clock-killing run drive to try and close out the 1st half, Dalton opened the second half with three incompletions and a really ugly drive.On his next drive, he hit Green, Eifert and Sanu, each with solid gains, and then was sacked, which ended the momentum and caused a punt. However, on his next drive, Dalton put it all together. After taking a sack to bury the Bengals at their own 2, Dalton fired a deep ball down the left sideline into the arms of a leaping Marvin Jones. After Giovani Bernard put the Bengals in Pats territory, Dalton completed three passes to Eifert and Green, and then watched as BJGE closed out the drive with 3 runs inside the 5 yard line for the TD. The drive was 7 minutes long, and went for 98 yards. After that, Dalton only had one pass, but it was big. Faced with a 3rd down in clock-killing mode, Dalton was under pressure and just got it off to Bernard for a huge first down which kept the chains moving. Once again, Dalton defeats a bigtime QB, in Tom Brady. In this game, the OC called a lot of running plays, and the team was in ďrunning modeĒ for much of the 4th quarter. Also, the Patriots used a lot of clock themselves, which shortened the opportunities for Dalton. Overall, aside from Daltonís bad turnover, he played solid, he used his receivers and tight ends well, and he helped the Bengals knock off the undefeated Patriots. Aqib Talib did a great job on AJ Green, and Dalton did a nice job of not forcing the ball to Green and spreading it around. Dalton was in ďgame managerĒ mode for much of the game, but he played the role well, and won the slugfest. Hopefully now that Daltonís schedule gets easier, he can finally start putting up some big numbers. This was a big win for him against a bigtime opponent.
Week 6 at BUF - After beating some really good QBís in less than convincing fashion, Andy Dalton needed a big game to answer the critics who seem to be getting more and more vocal. Dalton responded with a solid game against Buffalo, leading Cincinnati to a much needed win. Dalton was calm and poised, and for the most part made very good decisions. He led his team to a big lead and in range for a field goal that would have put the game away, but a missed field goal allowed room for Buffalo to come back. Dalton threw a lot of short screens in this game, which was a great decision by Jay Gruden, because many of them worked. An early screen led to a 50+ yard gain. His first TD came on a short shovel pass to Bernard, who worked magic to get into the endzone. Then in the 2nd half, Dalton threw a lob pass to AJ Green, who jumped high in the air, and came down with a big 18 yard TD. But Dalton then made a big mistake towards the end of the first half. He stared down AJ Green as the Bengals were driving for another score, and threw a nasty INT inside Buffaloís 25 yard line, ending a nice drive and keeping Buffalo alive. As costly as this was, however, it was Daltonís only mistake of the day. At the start of the third quarter, Dalton led the Bengals on a drive, ending in a pass to Marvin Jones for his third TD of the day. Then later on in the third, Dalton led the Bengals on a beautiful 8 minute drive, in which he spread the ball around and even converted a 4th and 15 throw downfield to Sanzenbacher. However, when the drive stalled deep in Buffalo territory, a missed field goal ended what would likely have been a game-clinching drive, and gave Buffalo a chance. Dalton had one more chance to try and put the game away late in the fourth, but a 3rd down throw to Gresham was dropped right at the first down marker, and the Bengals had to punt, and ultimately gave up the game tying TD. In overtime, Dalton started hot, hitting Green across the middle, throwing a screen pass to Sanu for a first, and then hitting Bernard on a screen pass for a long gain. But a sack ended the promising drive, and the Bengals punted. The Bengals ultimately won the game, and Dalton was a big reason they won. Aside from his one mistake, Dalton did a great job of spreading the ball around. The Bengals tried to throw a number of short passes, to get Daltonís confidence back up. This was a good decision, as there is no reason for Dalton to need to do anything special. The offense has a ton of play-makers and he just needs to get it into their hands.
Week 7 at DET - For the most part, Dalton was tremendous in a road game against a fired up defense. Once again, he defeats a bigtime QB and leads the Bengals to another big win. Dalton has a ton of weapons, and heís doing a great job of spreading the ball around to all of them. He obviously made good use of AJ Green, hitting him on an 82 yard bomb to open the game for Cincy. Dalton drove the team down the field late in the 2nd quarter and threw a beautiful lob pass to Marvin Jones, who leapt high in the air and made a great catch.
In the 2nd half, Dalton got the tight ends heavily involved, throwing to Gresham for two long throws down the seams, and throwing a lob to Eifert in the endzone, and allowing the big tight end to make a play on the ball. Dalton took care of the ball, didnít turn the ball over, and threw for a ton of yards, as the running game wasnít working. On the final drive, he threw two short passes and put his team in position to kick a field goal, which gave the Bengals the win.
However, Dalton is getting a lot of flack today because of three throws. All of them were bombs to AJ Green. The first was on the 82-yard TD. Green smoked the defender and Dalton didnít throw it quite far enough. Green adjusted, caught the ball, broke a tackle, and then scored. But a longer throw, and he goes untouched. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals found themselves in a dogfight. AJ Green got open down the right sideline and Dalton again hung the ball in the air, causing Green to interfere with the defender and get called for offensive pass interference. Then two plays later, Green made a beautiful move in the open field, got wide open deep downfield, and Dalton AGAIN underthrew it, causing the ball to be tipped away.
We know that Dalton does not throw a great deep ball. This is a limitation. But he is making great decisions right now, and he was extremely accurate within 20-30 yards. He had no problem looking deep downfield in this game either, as he hit Jones, Gresham and Eifert for long gains, as well as the 80+ yard touchdown. At this point, any negativity towards Dalton should be shelved. If he keeps playing like this, heíll be a QB1 in no time. Yes, it would be great if he could launch it 60 yards downfield, but he just doesnít have that type of arm. With the weapons on this team, he can still be successful either way.
Week 8 vs NYJ - After a week in which Dalton was caught a bit of criticism for failing to connect with AJ Green on a number of deep balls, he came out against the Jets and put on a clinic. Dalton threw one INT, which in reality was a great play on a screen pass by Wilkerson. Other than that, he played perfect. Finally Dalton has decided to put faith in his other receivers, most notably Marvin Jones. Dalton was flawless in the redzone, throwing five redzone TDís. The last few weeks, Dalton has really become hard to stop in the short passing game. He knows this offense, and his receivers are learning where to be. But it wasnít just the short passing game where Dalton excelled. On his first drive, he threw a deep ball to Sanu, and although it was on his fingertips, Sanu should have made the play. Then he threw Sanu another deep ball and drew a pass interference penalty. On the 3rd drive, Dalton threw a deep ball to AJ Green, and Green made a great play on the ball, which was thrown right in stride. Late in the first half, Dalton threw a lob down the left sideline right in the hands of Sanu for a 24 yard gain. Then in the 2nd half, Dalton threw a deep ball to Green right in stride, and Green dropped it. Finally, on Daltonís final drive in the third quarter, he hit a wide open AJ Green down the middle of the field for a 53 yard gain. If you only watched this game, and knew nothing of these players, youíd think Dalton was one of the top 2 or 3 QBís in the league. The truth is that over the past few weeks, heís taken major strides. Dalton has finally learned to stop focusing on Green. In beating Brady, Stafford and Rodgers, Daltonís confidence is sky-high and now heís throwing crazy numbers on the scoreboard. At this point it looks like Dalton and this offense are making the leap.
Week 9 at MIA - After a poor performance earlier this year in primetime, Dalton was hoping to finally play well on the national stage and erase some of the doubts. After this performance, the doubters arenít going away. Dalton threw three interceptions and was sacked in the endzone for a safety to end the game. In reality, Dalton made three mistakes for the entire game. The first two interceptions were carbon copies of each other. Sideline out patterns that Dalton threw way too far inside. On the first INT, it looked like Green possibly could have fought a little harder for the ball, but the fault definitely lies with Dalton there. The second throw was even worse. Daltonís final interception was Sanuís fault. Dalton threw a deep ball right between two defenders, and Sanu couldnít make the catch and tipped the ball right into the hands of the defender. For the rest of the game, Dalton actually played well. The Bengals moved the ball at will on the Dolphins. After a ridiculous first series where they let Green-Ellis run the ball three times for 9 yards, they opened things up and Dalton responded. However two things worked against him. First, he was missing his LT Whitworth, and the Dolphins did a good job of getting pressure and sacking him a few times. Second, he had a couple crucial drops that ended nice drives. For instance, on the 3rd drive, Dalton threw an out pattern to Green who was wide open. Green dropped the sure-fire first down, ending the drive. That kind of mistake is almost as bad as an INT, as it ends a drive. In overtime, Dalton threw an out pattern on 2nd down that Sanu dropped, that potentially could have given the Bengals about a 50 yard field goal, instead of the 57 yarder that Marvin Lewis passed up. Daltonís pick 6 was a horrible throw, and put the Bengals in a 17-3 hole. But you have to give credit to Dalton for putting his team on top 20-17 with about a minute to go. He made big throws over and over after that pick 6, and put his team into position to win. After the defense failed to hold, he drove his team down into field goal range in overtime, but Sanu dropped the ball and Lewis elected not to kick the field goal. In the end, Dalton threw for 338 yards and looked good for much of the game. But he made some crucial mistakes that were his undoing. He still looks to be in control of the offense, but if he wants to be taken serious as a bigtime QB, he needs to stop turning the ball over and start playing more consistent.
Week 10 at BAL - Dalton has had a season of ups and downs, but this was his low point. He was just pathetic in this game. His one shining moment was a lucky bounce off of a hail mary that sent the game into overtime. But really, Dalton didnít have a lot to do with the success of that play. Daltonís other deep ball to AJ Green was only caught because of a great physical play by Green to jump high, tap it in the air, and grab it on the tip. Now make no mistake, the Ravens played GREAT. Dalton was under heavy pressure, and the cornerbacks were man-handling the receivers for Cincinnati for much of the game. The pressure and tight coverage knocked Dalton out of his game, and he never looked comfortable. Not only did he throw 3 interceptions, he threw 2 other balls that could have easily been intercepted but were dropped. Dalton had a delay of game penalty on the 2nd drive, he had a number of passes batted at the line, and just couldnít get anything positive going. He was sacked five times, his throws didnít have enough juice on them, and he looked visibly shaken. Yet through all that, Dalton led the Bengals to the point where they would have had a 50 yard field goal in overtime, and Marvin Lewis passed on the field goal for the 2nd game in a row. While the FG kicker did miss a field goal earlier in the game, if Lewis doesnít have confidence in his field goal kicker to allow him to kick a 50 yarder in overtime, then he needs a new field goal kicker. In the NFL, thatís a very unusual decision, and one that backfired on him in two straight games. For Dalton, where does he go from here? Is this the beginning of the end for Dalton in Cincinnati? There arenít many Dalton fans left, despite his solid numbers. So far this year, Dalton has been a Jekyll and Hyde performer. Two weeks ago, he played a near-perfect game against the Jets. Against the Ravens, he played a horrible game. As the season winds into the final few weeks, can he get it together in time to get the ship righted? He certainly is going to be the QB for the rest of 2013. But if he chokes this thing away and plays this poorly over the next month, there will be a new QB in 2014.
Week 11 vs CLE - Dalton has been on a downward trend over the last few weeks, and facing Joe Haden and the Browns isn't the recipe for a turn-around. After a first drive that was killed with a holding penalty and a 2nd drive that was stopped due to non-sensically pounding Green-Ellis into the line, Dalton proceeded to throw two interceptions to Joe Haden on two successive first quarter drives. On the first throw, he threw it way too far behind Green. Then on the 2nd int, Green ran an out, and Dalton threw it too far inside. Haden intercepted it and returned it for a TD. Dalton has really struggled to keep the ball outside on those type of routes. However, Dalton received a break from his defense and special teams. After the two interceptions, the Bengals offense took over on a short field two straight possessions. On the first possession, Dalton threw a nice lob to Gresham over his shoulder toward the sideline. Gresham caught the ball, fought three defenders, and got into the endzone for a 25 yd td. On the next possession, Dalton threw a high pass in the corner of the endzone, and Sanu jumped up and grabbed it out of the air. Then the Bengals proceeded to score two touchdowns, one on a punt block and one on a fumble return by Vontaze Burfict. By the time Dalton hit the field again, his team had a 28-13 lead. In the 2nd half, the rain was coming down hard, and the Bengals offense remained stagnant as it was for most of the day. The final Bengals scoring drive was all setup by the run, and Dalton simply threw a short pass to a wide open Alex Smith on a playaction pass. Give Dalton credit for three touchdown passes. In the NFL, connecting in the redzone is important. But Dalton's lack of arm strength and lack of confidence is beginning to show. A season that looked so promising is now a big question mark. Dalton is clearly the person who is holding back this offense, along with the Bengals stubborn refusal to give Bernard more touches.
Week 13 at SD - If Dalton was looking to hush the critics, this was a bad week for him. In the first half, the only successful offensive plays were on screen passes and rushes. Daltonís numbers were anemic. He threw a ball high across the middle to AJ Green and almost got him seriously injured. Later on he threw a deep ball to Green, and the throw was one of the ugliest deep balls youíll ever see. Eric Weddle caught it as if he was catching a wobbly punt. Whether the ball slipped out of Daltonís hands or whether Dalton didnít know Weddle was back there isnít clear, but the throw was horrendous. However, as he has done throughout this season, Dalton rebounded and played a decent second half, resulting in a win against a premier QB. In reality the defense and the running game should get the majority of the credit, as both were phenomenal. Dalton did have a couple big 2nd half plays though. He started out the 2nd throwing screens and short passes. Then after a nice drive, Dalton hit AJ Green wide open in the endzone for a TD. There was a busted coverage on the play, and it was an easy TD. Then on the next drive, Dalton threw a great deep slant pass to Hawkins, who caught the ball and ran for 50 yards. Dalton put it on a rope and it was without question his best throw of the day. However, he followed that up with a fade route to Marvin Jones that didnít lead him enough, and Jones was unable to come up with the ball in the endzone. Overall, Dalton had a very average day. He was the quintessential game manager in this one. Perhaps that is the plan that the Bengals have for this offense for the remainder of 2013. The defense is playing great, and with the way Dalton is playing, it might be a good idea.
Week 14 vs IND - Add another name to the list of premier QBís that Dalton has beaten this year. Dalton was efficient, accurate and regained the form he had a month ago. He put the ball on the money, avoided making costly mistakes, and threw TDís in the redzone. The Colts are a good defense to play against when you need to bust out of a slump. Dalton busted out from the first drive and didnít look back. Of note is the number of times he threw deep and led his receiver. On the first drive, he threw a 29 yard lob into the back of the endzone where only Marvin Jones could get it. Instead of having to reach behind him (as receivers have been having to do over the past month), Dalton threw it long and let the receiver make a play. Dalton spread the ball around, hitting his receivers on quick screens, sideline passes, slants and then when he went over the top, he was quite effective. He did it on the aforementioned pass to Jones, and he also hit Jones again on a deep 29 yard pass down the left sideline. Then he finished things up with a lob to Green for a TD over the head of the defender for an easy 9 yard td. Daltonís final scoring play came on a rollout and then a run up the middle. The most remarkable thing about Daltonís day is that he played with passion, and whenever Luck made a big play and brought the Colts back, Dalton responded and led the team downfield for a TD. He never panicked, never forced things and led the ship. This offense could likely be a top 3 offense in the NFL if the QB played great, and when Dalton has played well, theyíve been pretty unstoppable. If Dalton can play like this for the remainder of the season, the Bengals will feel good about their future. At this point though, itís hard to know which Dalton is going to show up from week to week.
Week 15 at PIT - The Bengals fell into a quick hole against the Steelers. After an early 3 and out, the Steelers blocked a punt and took a 14-0 lead. Then the Bengals started at their own 8. After a penalty and a sack, the Bengals punted again and were quickly down 21-0. With the wind swirling, Dalton could never get anything going downfield. For the majority of the first half, the Steelers showed little respect for Daltonís deep ball. They played the receivers tight, and came after Dalton. Dalton had to scramble and run around, and he had nowhere to throw the ball. They finally picked up a touchdown after a nice return put the Bengals into Steeler territory. Dalton quickly hit Green across the middle for 19, and then Bernard led the way into the endzone with a few nice runs. In the second half, the Steelers began giving a little bit of cushion to the receivers. Dalton started working the sideline routes, but had nothing open downfield. In the second half, Dalton did a nice job of moving the ball, working the sidelines and trying anything he could to get the Bengals back into the game. The Steelers did a great job of shortening the game by keeping everything underneath. Dalton was plagued by a line that didnít do a great job of blocking, a heavy wind that kept him from throwing long balls with any accuracy, and he also had a few big dropped passes that ended drives. The defense and special teams also didnít do the Bengals any favors. Dalton certainly wasnít impressive, but he didnít make any major mistakes, and had a decent game despite tough conditions.
Week 16 vs MIN - Dalton had one of his best games of the season, as he seems to have fully rebounded from the mid-season slump that plagued him. He got his throws off quick, he connected on a few deep balls, and most importantly he didnít turn the ball over. Dalton has just surpassed the 4k mark, the 30TD mark and his TD-INT ratio is nearly 2-1. When he has played flawless, as he did against the Vikings, the Bengals are nearly impossible to beat. Minnesotaís cbís were no match for Green and Jones and Dalton exploited both of those matchups over and over. Daltonís first TD was a 29 yard lob right over Greenís shoulder. The ball was placed beautifully. He then threw a high ball over the middle and right into the outstretched hands of Jermaine Gresham, who made a great play on the ball. Dalton did a nice job of spreading the ball around, not focusing on any one player, and putting a lot of points on the board. At this point, Daltonís becoming one of those QBís who can put up elite numbers. Whether Dalton can become an elite QB or not is going to be determined by whether he can do this consistently. 2 weeks ago, he shredded Indianapolis. Last week the Steelers whipped the Bengals. Staying consistent has been the problem. In reality, most of Daltonís intís arenít a result of poor decision-making, they are the result of poor throws. When he throws the ball accurately, as he did against the Vikings, the Bengals usually win.
Week 17 vs BAL - If you were ďstuckĒ with Dalton in your fantasy playoffs, you may very well have won your championship, as Dalton rode into week 17 fresh off of two huge performances in weeks 15 and 16. Wanting to finish up the regular season on a roll, Dalton started the game by throwing two interceptions on the first two drives! The first INT was a ball that he threw up to Marvin Jones to let him make a play. While Dalton gets credit for the INT, Jones had both hands on the ball and had it ripped out of his hands, so it wasnít a particularly egregious throw. His second INT was thrown way over AJ Greenís head on a pass across the middle. It looks like the pass just sailed on him. Dalton has a habit of over-throwing his intermediate passes when heís feeling pressure, and after the second drive, it looked like the pressure of a playoff atmosphere may have been too much. But afterwards, Dalton responded, and led the Bengals to a huge win. The very next drive, Dalton fired a deep ball right to AJ Green for a 53 yard TD. Then on the very next drive, they went deep again to Bernard, and Dalton hit him in stride deep downfield, but Bernard couldnít hold onto the ball, as catching a deep ball was clearly not something Bernard was comfortable with. On the 5th drive, Dalton fired a pass into the endzone for Green, and Green was slow to get the second hand up to try and secure the ball. It was the type of play Green usually makes, so it was surprising he didnít make the play. Then Daltonís second TD came on a great play by Marvin Jones, as Dalton again threw it high up and let Jones make a tremendous one-handed grab for another TD. In the second half, Dalton threw two more INTís. One was a deep pass to Green, but Webb played Green very physical, got position and got an INT. Then after a great drive that got the Bengals down to the 1 yard line, the Bengals decided to air it out on first and goal. Dalton threw a back shoulder throw across the field on what looked like a designed isolation play for AJ Green. But Jimmy Smith read the play perfectly and picked off Dalton for the fourth time. With Green-Ellis running strong, it was a bit odd to see them air it out on first and goal, but the Bengals werenít taking their foot off the gas. Overall, despite the intís, Dalton and the offense continued to respond, and did what they needed to do to hold off a desperate team trying to get into the playoffs. It wasnít Daltonís best performance, but once again, he came out on top. As Dalton finished off an impressive 4300 yard, 33 TD season, the only thing the Bengals care about now is whether he can translate that regular season success into post-season production. With the porous San Diego defense and a second round matchup with potentially punchless New England, things are setup for Dalton to possibly take the Bengals to the AFC Championship game.
Week 18 vs SD - During 2013, Andy Dalton had a Jekyll and Hyde persona. Many in the media have latched on to the premise that Dalton put up big numbers against bad defenses, and bad numbers against good defenses. This just isnít the case. Dalton and the Bengals have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard against anyone. In the first half, Dalton played very well. He led the Bengals on an efficient 2nd quarter drive culminating in a tough throw under duress to Jermaine Gresham at the goalline for a TD. On the very next drive, Dalton came out slinging, making perhaps the best and most accurate deep throw of the season. He dropped it right in Marvin Jones hands for 49 yards, hitting him in stride and putting the Bengals in the redzone. Then Dalton floated one over the linebackers head right into the hands of a streaking Giovani Bernard, and Bernard fumbled the ball away. That fumble really changed the outcome of the game, as a TD there would have been huge. However, even after that fumble, Dalton got the ball back with 1:14 to go in the half, and still made plays. He hit AJ Green on the sideline for 14, connected with Sanu for 13 over the middle, and then hit Gresham for another 13 yard sideline pass that put the Bengals into position to get a go-ahead field goal. Despite the disappointment of the fumble, the Bengals still had put up solid yardage on three straight possessions and looked to be ready to take control of the game. However in the second half, the Chargers guessed that the Bengals would start relying on the passing game, and began rushing Dalton furiously. Dalton was on the run the entire second half. On the first possession, he was sacked, then he was forced out of the pocket and had to throw it away, then he scrambled from pressure and slid headfirst, losing the ball at the first down marker. On his next possession, the pressure came again and the rain was falling hard. On 3rd and 8 Dalton was blitzed, threw off his back foot, and Wright stepped in front of the receiver and pulled in an easy INT on a ball that never should have been thrown. At the start of the fourth quarter, Dalton led the Bengals on a nice drive that had them moving across midfield. But Dalton made a really bad decision, throwing an out to Eifert with the defender sitting there waiting for the pass. This was a case of Dalton knowing where he was going to throw the ball before the snap, and not adjusting. Dalton tried to rebound late in the game, as the defense hung tough and kept giving Cincy chances. With 6:09 left in the game and the Bengals down by 10, Dalton threw a deep pass to AJ Green down the right sideline that landed right in his arms inside the 10. Green dropped the ball, which basically ended any threat from Cincy. Overall, there were miscues all over the board for Cincy. Bernardís fumble, Greenís drop, and horrific pass blocking in the 2nd half. Dalton ran for his life, and this clearly affected him. But he made some really bad throws, and faces an off-season where the critics will be eating him alive. In todayís society, you wonder how a young Peyton Manning would have been attacked by the critics as he lost playoff game after playoff game to open his career. To only criticize Dalton for his mistakes while not pointing out the good things heís done isnít honest journalism. Dalton made big improvements this year, beat a lot of great quarterbacks, and had games where he played as well as any QB in the league. But he also made a number of head-scratching plays, and threw a lot of interceptions. If Dalton wants the critics to go away, heís going to have to reduce the turnovers, which will give him plenty to work on in the off-season.