2017 Grade: .461

2017 3rd Down: -.022

Week 1 vs Baltimore: Mis-identifying coverage, throwing off-target, taking unnecessary sacks – these are all bad. But the worst play from Andy Dalton’s no good, very bad day was a throwaway on 4th down. Dalton locked on targets all game and misfired frequently when he did have a man. There were only two negatively graded games for all of the 2016 season; Dalton gets us half way there with his week one showing. I doubt I’ll ever get a grade of negative 10 points on 12 third-down drop backs again. This was just a putrid performance and one that should open the door for AJ McCarron to be seriously considered as the starter.

Week 2 vs. Houston: 

Andy Dalton played as poorly as a quarterback can in week one, and because of that, some missed throws in week two were magnified tenfold. He made a few nice plays in this game (dime up the seam to Tyler Eifert, a bomb on a scramble play and touchdown on a broken play called back for illegal touching.) But it’s the misses tend to stand out when the offense is stagnant, however, and Dalton didn’t help his own cause in that sense. His four negative plays were a big improvement from last week’s 10.

Week 3 at Green Bay: Andy Dalton was afforded two luxuries, under new coordinator Bill Lazor, that he didn’t have previously – an improved ground game, and simplified, half field reads. With an abundance of shallow crosses, quick hitters and two-receiver-route-combinations to one side of the field, Dalton had his best game of the year.

Week 4 at Cleveland: Even though it’s mostly Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde shows up under center for the Bengals sometimes. This game was good Andy Dalton. He threw with terrific touch and understanding of the Browns coverages. He got the ball out of his hands quickly, extended plays, and made first downs with his legs. Back-to-back quality games from the Bengals QB.

Week 5 vs. Buffalo: All things considered, Andy Dalton played well enough for the Bengals to their second straight win. He missed a couple of throws, had two interceptions (one was not his fault, the other a tipped high pass) but was otherwise solid. He made more scramble plays, hit the big ball, and was decisive against a tough Buffalo defense.

2016: The Master Of His Own Demise

Andy Dalton is the NFL’s ultimate quarterback-barometer. Wavering right on the line of average, he has plays, drives, games, sometimes months where he looks like the genuine-article. Then, like some sort of resurrected ancient-curse that believes Bengals fans haven’t been tortured enough, he’ll enter a tailspin that defines polarization.

Dalton’s limitations are the reason he slipped to the second round of the 2011 draft. An impressive resume and winning-pedigree at Texas Christian, Dalton doesn’t have the arm traits of his fellow quarterback brethren. He struggles to push the ball to the boundaries and it limits the Bengals’ playbook.

Most of the offense operates between the numbers and in the quick-strike game. Part of this is due to the fact that Dalton throws a change-up rather than a fastball, and that the Bengals offensive-line was among the league’s worst in 2016.

Dalton’s incessant urge to rush through everything he does and drift in the pocket, opposed to climbing up, magnified these issues. He goes through reads too-quickly and hurries his ball-fakes on play-actions and run-pass options negatively impacting his accuracy in the short-game.

One of the streakiest quarterbacks in the league, Dalton registered my second highest single-game grade one week after posting the worst single-game grade in 2016.

The middle of the field isn’t a problem for Dalton. He throws touch-passes quite capably and analyzes things in that area quickly most of the time.

His anticipation is much like the rest of his game, inconsistent. It’s a mixed bag of on-time and late-throws that sometimes leave Bengals receivers flailing their arms in frustration.

Speaking of receivers, AJ Green might be the best in the business and bails Dalton out on countless fifty-fifty balls. It’s no mystery why Dalton’s productivity took a huge hit in the second-half of the season when he lost Green. By the end of the season, the passing-game was so far gone that Cincinnati would often only call pass-plays on third-down.

Dalton is a quality-athlete and throws in good-rhythm on the run. However, when the pocket breaks down, he’s quick to get up-field and often eschews opportunities to run to set up the pass. Once he tucks the ball, he ignores all downfield-options and leave big-plays on the field in favor of short-gains via the scramble.

Andy Dalton is never going to go too far beyond the scheme in terms of creating chunk-yardage. He’s a scheme-player capable of doing most of what is asked of him. He struggles to throw around coverage (throwing receivers open) and can telegraph passes.

Dalton is a quarterback that can win in the right system (see 2015.) Pairing his physical-limitations with the oft-present egregious, head-scratching mistakes makes for an extremely frustrating quarterback.

Stat Sheet

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