This past season, the Cincinnati Bengals made great strides on both sides of the football. They won ten games and made the playoffs; and while they didn’t advance, the standard was set for the future for this franchise. But after a disappointing individual performance in the wildcard loss to the Houston Texans, NFL fans are wondering if after such a great regular season, is quarterback Andy Dalton ready to take that next step and become an elite NFL quarterback?
Looking at the regular season, Dalton was tremendous. He finished the season with an impressive 3,669 yards and 27 touchdowns. His completion percentage was above 60%, which is an NFL standard at this point, and while he did have 16 interceptions, he was still much more confident and proficient in the passing game. His poise and control of the Bengals offense was impressive. He made big throws when his team needed them, and had some impressive division wins.
On the flip side however, his playoff game we saw some of the problems that plagued Dalton in college: playing without confidence and making poor throws. This will inevitably raise concerns about his potential in 2013. But the question raised here is, can Dalton rise to the level of “elite” in 2013?
My easy answer is yes.
He made a real move in 2012, in only his second year as a starter. In 2013, I can certainly see him surpassing the 4,000 yard passing mark, as well as the 30 touchdown mark. But the real key is going to be can he lead his team not only to the playoffs, but well into the playoffs with some signature wins? We all saw Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan get that monkey off his back the year, and if Dalton wants to be in the same discussion as the other top signal-callers in the league, a great playoff performance culminating in a win would definitely help his case.
What do you think Bengals fans? Is Dalton ready to ascend to that next level in the NFL, or am I jumping the gun? Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know.