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Let the Red Rifle reload

Through two weeks, the Bengals have no wins and no touchdowns. This is looking quite familiar to the early 2000s when Jon Kitna and a whole other cast of misfits were playing quarterback for Cincinnati. However, fans should not be in full panic mode because Andy Dalton is no misfit.

Rumoured replacements for Dalton are names like AJ McCarron and free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Oddly enough, Bengals president, Mike Brown, wanted to draft quarterback Colin Kaepernick instead of Andy Dalton in the 2011 NFL draft. However, former offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, had another vision that was led by the Red Rifle.

Gruden saw Dalton as a perfect fit for his West Coast offense. Evidently, it was a great fit and the two worked together extremely well. The years of 2011-2013 were Dalton’s glory years. The Red Rifle had 11, 360 yards, 80 touchdowns, and 49 interceptions. Even though he threw a few too many picks, he put points on the board for Cincinnati. Dalton also possessed a completion percentage of 60.7, along with a QBR of 49.9. Not to mention, the TCU product was breaking records early on in his career. Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, and now Andy Dalton, are the only three quarterbacks in NFL history that threw for 20 or more touchdowns in their first two years in the league.

Dalton clearly did not fit well with what Ken Zampese was doing because he had his worst season with him at offensive coordinator:

 ANDY DALTON’S PASSING STATISTICS
SEASON TEAM GP CMP ATT CMP% YDS AVG TD LNG INT FUM QBR RAT
2011 CIN 16 300 516 58.1 3,398 6.59 20 84 13 3 46.9 80.4
2012 CIN 16 329 528 62.3 3,669 6.95 27 59 16 4 47.7 87.4
2013 CIN 16 363 586 61.9 4,293 7.33 33 82 20 3 55.1 88.8
2014 CIN 16 309 481 64.2 3,398 7.06 19 81 17 1 48.5 83.5
2015 CIN 13 255 386 66.1 3,250 8.42 25 80 7 2 70.0 106.3
2016 CIN 16 364 563 64.7 4,206 7.47 18 86 8 4 50.8 91.8
2017 CIN 2 36 66 54.5 394 5.97 0 50 4 1 8.0 47.2
Career 95 1,956 3,126 62.6 22,608 7.23 142 86 85 18 88.2

Credit: ESPN

Zampese got promoted to offensive coordinator before the 2016 season after Hue Jackson was signed by Cleveland as their head coach. Not to worry, Zampese is on his way out and quarterback coach Bill Lazor has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

Everyone is irritated with head coach Marvin Lewis for not giving Alabama’s golden boy, AJ McCarron, a chance. Well, the answer is quite simple. As of right now, AJ McCarron is not an upgrade from Andy Dalton. McCarron started five games (one playoff, four regular season) in 2015 after Andy Dalton went down with a broken thumb. McCarron performed well in those five starts, posting 1,044 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. However, McCarron played two teams below .500 and had the second best defense in the NFL behind him. As the starting quarterback, the Alabama product only scored over 20 points in two out of the five games. It is just too early to hit the panic button on veteran quarterback Andy Dalton for AJ McCarron who has very little experience.

NFL: JAN 03 Ravens at Bengals

Dalton has always been good at getting the ball out of his hands quickly. This year is a little different because the 29-year-old has less time than ever to get the ball to his receivers. Coming into 2017 NFL season, Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals offensive line unit 31st. They could not have been more right. Dalton has been sacked eight times and has been pressured on almost every snap. The loss of Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler were bigger than the Bengals expected.

So, after two poor losses in 2017 and his first losing season in 2016, the best answer is to bench Andy Dalton? No, give the red headed beauty a few more chances before you think of throwing him on the bench. For heaven’s sake, the Red Rifle led the Bengals to five straight playoff appearances and two division titles. Every quarterback has a slump, hopefully, a new offensive coordinator will jump start Dalton’s 2017 season.

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