The Cincinnati Bengals playoff woes continue in today’s loss 27-10 to the San Diego Chargers, and the franchise has now gone 23 years since its last playoff win. It is not difficult to find someone to blame for this loss, as Andy Dalton was absolutely terrible. He completed 29/51 passes for 334 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs and 1 lost fumble. The turnovers were absolutely crippling, and the Bengals simply couldn’t overcome the Dalton’s mistakes.
Dalton now has just 1 touchdown and 6 interceptions in three career playoff games, all of which have been losses. Dalton has solid regular season numbers, and he has done well to get the Bengals to the playoffs. However, he continues to be extremely inconsistent and crack under pressure, and those flaws are costing the Bengals dearly.
At this point, Dalton doesn’t have any excuses. His top target is A.J. Green, who is a top 5 receiver in the NFL. Marvin Jones and Jermaine Gresham lead a solid supporting cast of receivers and tight ends, giving Dalton plenty of weapons. The Bengals also have a solid offensive line and a strong run game led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard. The Bengals also had the league’s third ranked defense this season, meaning Dalton and the offense don’t have much pressure on them to score a lot of points.
Despite the excellent team around him, Dalton continues to make bad decisions and play poorly, and he is holding this franchise back. Dalton was a second round pick in 2010, but he simply hasn’t developed as well as they need him to win. A team’s window for contending can close very, very quickly, and the Bengals are wasting theirs with Dalton at quarterback. It is time for them to look for upgrade, because Dalton will not help this team take the next step.
Unfortunately, the Bengals are drafting too late in the draft to find a safe pick at quarterback in the first round. Using another second round pick on a QB or trading for a player like Kirk Cousins could be an option, but those are not sure things. The Bengals have to consider trading up in the draft, especially if they find they are convinced about a player like Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles.
A solution to their problem may not come this offseason, but it is clear that the Bengals have no choice but to begin looking for Dalton’s replacement. Dalton is a solid quarterback, but he is never going to lead this team deep into the playoffs or to a Super Bowl. The Bengals have the talent to be a Super Bowl contender, but they never will be with Dalton at quarterback.