With their second-round selection in the 2011 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Andy Dalton, a young quarterback from Texas Christian University. Dalton was fresh off of a Rose Bowl victory at the end of the 2010 college football season.
Critics were hard on the Bengals that year, with some saying they might even go winless. Instead, Dalton led the team to a stunning wild-card berth and a 9-7 record. He then topped his rookie campaign in his sophomore season, recording seven more touchdowns and around 250 more yards. It culminated in a 10-6 record.
Unfortunately, despite Dalton's early success, many doubt that he can take Cincinnati to a Super Bowl. Looking at his numbers, you may be trapped into thinking differently.
Over his first two seasons in the NFL, Dalton threw for 47 touchdowns and 29 picks—a rather impressive ratio—while throwing for over 7,000 yards. Unfortunately for the Red Rifle, his numbers don't tell the entire story.
While he can be a good passer at times, Dalton has struggled throughout his short career to put the ball in the right place consistently. Particularly in 2013, we've seen him throw the football a mile above the heads of his receivers and even too far above his tight ends, both 6'5" or better.
Additionally, he has shown a disturbing tendency to throw the pick-six, a dismal stat that he led the NFL in last season.
Keep in mind, this is not a piece that is meant to rip Dalton to pieces. There's no doubt that he's good, but I look at him the way I look at Alex Smith or Matt Schaub: He's good, but he won't you a title.
The fact is that teams these days need a quarterback capable of stepping up to be a leader in the postseason, and we've yet to see any sign of that from Dalton. In two postseason games, he was absolutely wretched, throwing no touchdowns and four interceptions, and he was altogether a non-factor.
In a nutshell, Dalton lacks consistency. It seems that he will come out one drive and hit each and every target, show good fakes to his runners and flash solid mobility. Then, he comes out and throws consecutive passes 10 yards past his receivers.
This sort of inconsistency—especially on a team loaded with talent—is not going to earn a QB a lot of championship respect.
For Dalton, the abilities and potential seem to be there. He's always had good mobility, is a smart guy when it comes to reading the defense and can be accurate. If there comes a day when he gains some consistency, this article may read quite a bit differently.