Mark Craig's NFL Insider: Bengals happy with QB

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 12, 2013 - 5:22 PM
hide

Andy Dalton has completed 114 of 175 passes (65 percent) for 1,215 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions but, more important, has the Bengals at 3-2 and tied for the AFC North lead.

Photo: File photo by David Kohl • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

On Jan. 23, 2011, Cincinnati joined a number of other NFL cities in need of a franchise quarterback when Carson Palmer requested a trade following a 4-12 season.

The Bengals had the fourth overall pick and an unorthodox plan to boost its passing attack. They would build in reverse order, taking the receiver, A.J. Green, first and the quarterback, Andy Dalton, second.

“I was a big Andy Dalton fan since the start of our evaluation process,” Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said this week.

Cincinnati, obviously, hit a home run with Green. But the tail end of the plan required waiting through another 31 selections until the Bengals were back on the clock with the third pick of the second round.

Cam Newton already had gone No. 1 overall to Carolina. Jake Locker went next at No. 8 to Tennessee. Jacksonville, knowing the Vikings also needed a quarterback, traded from No. 16 to No. 10 and took Blaine Gabbert. After Houston took defensive end J.J. Watt, the Vikings took Christian Ponder 12th overall.

“I was holding my breath, hoping [Dalton’s] name would be written on our ticket and taken to the podium,” Gruden said. “To me, he was the most accurate and poised quarterback available. Anticipation and accuracy are important in any offense, and particularly in this one.”

Gruden and the Bengals aren’t bragging. And critics would argue they aren’t in position to brag too much since the 49ers took Colin Kaepernick one spot after Dalton.

But for what the Bengals were looking for, they believe they targeted the right quarterback for several years to come. At 6-2, 215 pounds, the so-called “holes” in Dalton’s résumé were a lack of size and questionable arm strength.

Gruden wasn’t among those doing the questioning. Gruden saw a quarterback holding every major passing record at Texas Christian, including 42 victories, one of which was a Rose Bowl.

“I could tell he was a great leader and a winner,” Gruden said. “We studied him [on film], and every time I had a doubt, he erased the doubt. If he threw an interception, the next drive he’d come back and lead them to a touchdown. If he got sacked or made a poor decision, he backed it up with something special.”

For whatever reason, Dalton still hasn’t won over fans in southwest Ohio. Two weeks ago, when the offense was pitiful in a 17-6 loss at Cleveland, critics were calling for the ouster of Dalton and Gruden.

Last week, Dalton completed 74.1 percent of 27 passes in a victory over unbeaten New England. The Bengals are 3-2 and tied atop the AFC North. All is well … for now.

Since being drafted, Dalton is 22-15, which is eight victories better than any of the other top six QBs selected in 2011. The Bengals were 17-20 in their previous 37 games without Dalton.

In 2011, Dalton was the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards, 20 touchdowns and win at least eight games. In 2012, he joined Dan Marino and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to throw for 20 or more touchdowns in their first two seasons.

Yes, he’s 0-2 in two playoff games and didn’t play well. But the Bengals still believe they filled a big hole with a quarterback some considered too small.

“Some of the best current and past quarterbacks aren’t 6-4,” Gruden said. “[Drew] Brees is doing pretty well, [Joe] Montana did pretty well. [Michael] Vick has done pretty well. We thought, and now we know, that Andy is plenty big enough and strong enough.”

Northern Intelligence

Eli Manning’s first-quarter pick-six bailed Bears coach Marc Trestman out of an early gamble that would have been a big deal had the Bears not beaten the Giants 27-21 on Thursday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 1 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 5
Cincinnati - WP: T. Cingrani 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: B. Cumpton 1
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 7
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 4
Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: E. Bedard 7
Arizona - WP: M. Bolsinger 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 2
San Diego 3 Bottom 7th Inning
Washington 2
Baltimore 7 Top 7th Inning
Toronto 3
NY Yankees 7 Bottom 5th Inning
Boston 2
Oakland 4 Top 3rd Inning
Houston 1
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Indiana 75 4th Qtr 6:27
Atlanta 79
Oklahoma City 36 3rd Qtr
Memphis 44
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
Boston 0 2nd Prd 16:36
Detroit 1
Colorado 8:30 PM
Minnesota
San Jose 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many regular season games will Vikings win?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close