Is Dalton the “Face of the Franchise”?


Andy Dalton is the most divisive player amongst Bengals fans – most think he is terrible, while a select think he is actually pretty good. I guess that doesn’t really make him divisive so much as subject to significant criticism, something that comes with being a professional quarterback. The issue with Dalton has certainly not been statistics. In comparison with several other notable quarterbacks first three seasons in the league, his numbers stack up impressively.

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Is Dalton a Franchise QB?

Peyton Manning’s first three seasons:

Completion % Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
56.7% 3,739 26 28
62.1% 4,135 26 15
62.5% 4,413 33 15

 

Tom Brady’s first three seasons:

*During his rookie season, Brady only attempted 3 pass attempts so his numbers are not included.

Completion % Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
63.9% 2,843 18 12
62.1% 3,764 28 14

 

Russell Wilson’s first two seasons:

Completion % Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
64.1% 3,118 26 10
63.1% 3,357 26 9

 

Andy Dalton’s first three seasons:

Completion % Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
58.1% 3,398 20 13
62.3% 3,669 27 16
61.9% 4,293 33 20

 

 

Dalton’s numbers at this early point in his career stack up with two of the best quarterbacks of all time (Manning and Brady) and are not too dissimilar from the much-hyped Super Bowl champion Wilson. However, the issue with Dalton is his inability to win the “big game”, as well as his penchant for untimely turnovers. Three seasons into the league, he has revitalized the once floundering Bengals. Following the Carson Palmer debacle, the franchise was expected to be in a rebuilding mode for years to come. Instead Dalton lead the Bengals to three playoff appearances in three seasons. Unfortunately for the team, and Dalton in particular, the Bengals looked lost during each of their three consecutive playoff defeats.

 

Many feel that it is time to start looking towards the future instead of making Dalton the franchise quarterback. I believe this logic is flawed. Sure, draft a project quarterback during the upcoming draft in a later round as insurance. This year’s quarterback class lacks top-tier talent (Bridewater, Bortles, and Manziel all have significant questions about their ability to lead a franchise), but it has a plethora of serviceable future backup/starter/backup players. This draft shows the reality of the NFL – there are very few true starting-caliber quarterbacks in the league. Andy Dalton is one of fifteen, maybe twenty legitimate starting-caliber NFL QB’s, and on the younger end. He has only played three seasons in the league yet and has put up historical numbers during such a timeframe. It took Peyton Manning six years to win his first playoff game, and while his detractors may say he is a great regular season quarterback with only one Super Bowl ring, that single ring is more than the Bengals have in their entire history.

 

Ultimately, Dalton may never bring a ring to Cincinnati, but at least give him time. Unless there is a clear-cut upgrade available in the next few seasons, a prospect like Andrew Luck for example, the Bengals realistically need to pin their hopes on Dalton and hope he can live up to the task.

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