Andy Dalton was available at the 35th pick in the 2011 draft because he has physical limitations. He isn’t particularly big, strong-armed, or athletic. And so Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had to design creative ways to mask Dalton’s deficiencies in his first year, while maximizing the rookie signal caller’s strengths.
Gruden did a great job — particularly in a lockout-shortened offseason — but in some circles Dalton is now being billed as a future elite player. Not so fast.
“I think there’s a sense right now, for a lot of people, that Dalton’s on his way toward being a great quarterback,” NFL Films producer Greg Cosell told Yahoo! Sports. “I can tell you that those in the Bengals’ organization have a few doubts as to what his true upside is. Because at the end of the day, while I think Dalton is a good player, I think — not I think, I know — that he’s got some arm strength limitations.
“And there’s some things that they’re not comfortable doing with him.”
Cosell isn’t typically in the reporting business, but it’s no secret that he speaks to coaches and front-office men, and is well respected inside the NFL community. He’s a reputable and reliable voice, and the stats support Cosell’s statements.
The league seemed to catch onto Dalton’s act about midway through his rookie year. In the Bengals’ final nine games, including the playoffs, Dalton completed just 169-of-301 passes (56.1 percent) for 1,959 yards (6.51 YPA) with seven touchdowns compared to 12 turnovers. Dalton roared out of the gates against a soft early-season schedule, only to flounder when the passing windows got smaller against stouter stretch-run defenses.
Dalton still finished second in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, and quarterbacked a 9-7 team that qualified for a wild-card playoff spot. No one can take away the accolades of that first season from Dalton.
But the jury is still very much out on him entering year two.