Cincinnati Bengals: A Prove-It Season for Andy Dalton in 2013?

By Thomas Emerick
Andy Dalton leading Cincinnati Bengals
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

It seems centuries ago that Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton hit the mid-season mark as the NFL Rookie of the Year frontrunner, in defiance of draft-day criticism about his arm strength limiting him. Part of this lauding in 2011 was the artificial hype that comes with quarterback win-loss records and part of it was Dalton playing pretty well for a rookie.

Fast-forward two miserable playoff performances later and it’s now reasonable to speculate that Dalton could be playing for his job in 2013. In fact, it wouldn’t be crazy to draft a quarterback high in the draft to challenge Dalton this season.

This cause for alarm isn’t solely due to the anemic performances in the two divisional playoff losses to the Houston Texans: Pro Football Focus graded Dalton as the 25th-ranked quarterback in 2012 despite benefiting from the second-best graded pass blocking in the NFL. Not to mention that he has the best young receiver in the league in A.J. Green.

That magical 2011 rookie year? Graded out 28th in the league by PFF.

The Bengals possess a slew of intriguing young weapons at receiver for the coming years including Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins and Mohamed Sanu. There’s a realistic chance that Cincy could also take a tight end from a highly praised class for the position. The 2013 class is not, however, receiving overwhelmingly rave reviews at the quarterback spot.

Dalton signed a four-year, $5.2 million deal prior to his rookie season in 2011, leaving Cincinnati with hardly a crippling cap hit if they were to cut ties with him after the 2013 campaign. Fortunately for Dalton, 16 games is plenty of time to earn his keep.

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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