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Thread: Steelers-Bengals: Can Andy Dalton help the Bengals take the next step?

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    Steelers-Bengals: Can Andy Dalton help the Bengals take the next step?

    For all of the analysis that we can hear about this game, to me, it all comes down to one player. Can Andy Dalton lead the Bengals to a big road divisional victory?

    While his INT% has risen a bit this season, Dalton's numbers on the whole have greatly improved this year. His completion % has risen 4.4 points, his TDs are way up (26 in 14 games this year compared with 20 all of last season), and his YPA, YPG, and Rating have all improved as well.

    But if there's one major concern that could pop up, especially in road game, it's the fact that Dalton sack percentage has increased significantly. Last year, Dalton was sacked on 4.4% of his drop backs. This year, that number is up to 7.5%. While this number is not overly alarming by itself, I heard an interview with Greg Cosell yesterday that I found to be very interesting.

    Cosell mentioned that on tomorrow's matchup show, they're going to get into how many plays Dalton leaves on the field. By his estimation this year, Dalton has left 11 open TDs on the field. In other words, the play designs worked as planned, the correct player was open, and Dalton was still unable to pull the trigger, mainly due to pressure that he perceived to be there, when in fact it wasn't. (Can you imagine that Dalton could conceivably have 35+ TDs this year?)

    In Cosell's analysis of Dalton's performance last week at Philadelphia, he mentioned the following...

    Dalton left another TD on the field on the 2nd series, Hawkins wide open out of 3 man tight bunch; That was play’s design, Dalton did not pull the trigger and ended up getting sacked
    Dalton’s accuracy was inconsistent, Ball location was not precise which resulted in some incompletions that should have been completions
    Dalton continued to miss throws that were there, He was not sharp
    Dalton has become quick to move, He’s perceiving pressure and leaving the pocket too early

    These could be the product of one bad game, but a look inside the numbers, and inside the film suggests that these are problems Dalton is still dealing with in his development as a QB. While he's clearly improved, these are not problems that should make Bengals fans feel confident as they head into Pittsburgh, even against a Steelers team with a depleted secondary.

    If Dalton can fix these issues, the Bengals have an excellent chance to beat the Steelers and make some real noise in the playoffs. But these trends don't seem like a recipe for success against a team like Pittsburgh, especially in Heinz Field.
    Last edited by Trumpetbdw; 12-22-2012 at 10:48 AM.
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  2. #2
    Dalton's biggest issue right now is knowing when to cut it loose and when to hold out for a bigger play. He has the quickest snap-to-throw release time average in the league (in other words, he holds the ball the least on average of any QB), but his sacks are up this year.

    Part of it is him developing that feel. After the first Pittsburgh game he was called out for getting rid of the ball too quick and taking shorter routes over potential bigger plays. Since that time, the Bengals have gone 5-1, but sacks given up have gone up.

    He just has to develop that feel for when (as Lapham says) to "let it rip."
    Last edited by Bengals1181; 12-22-2012 at 10:46 AM.

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    Correct in saying he's quick to throw, but I'll take it one step further. He's quick to decide. When he throws, he doesn't let plays develop, and when the plays do develop as they're supposed to, he's too quick to feel pressure that's not there. That he's so quick to throw, as NBC noted, and yet has one of the highest sack % in the league is very telling.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
    Correct in saying he's quick to throw, but I'll take it one step further. He's quick to decide. When he throws, he doesn't let plays develop, and when the plays do develop as they're supposed to, he's too quick to feel pressure that's not there. That he's so quick to throw, as NBC noted, and yet has one of the highest sack % in the league is very telling.
    I don't think quick to decide is necessarily a bad thing, but agree that he needs to do a better job of letting some routes develop.

    His sacks have tended to come on plays where he actually does hold onto it too long trying to let something develop, and ends up taking a sack (and sometimes, the line has simply just gotten beat).

    It's all about finding that happy medium when to let it rip, when to hold it, and when to just run and get what you can.

  5. #5
    its kind of like what you see with rookie QB's. They make a read or two and then take off running.

    Dalton, remarkably didn't do that as a rookie. However, he now finds himself in a somewhat similar situation of knowing and trusting his internal clock. Knowing when to be patient, when to take the shorter route and get what you can (which IMO there's a lot to be said for taking a safe 5-6yds on a play), and when to know you just have to run and pick up what you can.

    It's something that SHOULD come with experience.



    Further, it should be noted that the Bengals have not done a good job this season (or last) in neutralizing teams' pass rushes with screens, draws, and quick slants. IMO that has been one of Jay Gruden's biggest pitfalls as a young coordinator. For a west coast offense, the Bengals run a startling small amount of screens.

  6. #6
    another way to think of it (as far as the quick release), Dalton does a very good job of taking safe, smart throws, he needs to learn to be a little more aggressive and take more chances. Especially when you have guys like Green and Gresham who can make great catches.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
    I don't think quick to decide is necessarily a bad thing, but agree that he needs to do a better job of letting some routes develop.

    His sacks have tended to come on plays where he actually does hold onto it too long trying to let something develop, and ends up taking a sack (and sometimes, the line has simply just gotten beat).

    It's all about finding that happy medium when to let it rip, when to hold it, and when to just run and get what you can.
    It's definitely a good starting place for improvement if your QB is too quick. It's just a comfor thing. As long as the coaches bring him along, which I trust they will, that issue will fade away.
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    Yeah. I've questioned his pocket awareness all year. He sometimes feels pressure that isn't there, then doesn't feel pressure when it is there.
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    As much as i don't like the Bengals - here's hoping you guys overturn history and put the Steelers out of their misery.
    “I’ve always been a big fan of Norv Turner. I think he gets it. I think he does an outstanding job.” — Pat Shurmur

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    Next year is going to be a huge year for Dalton. If he shows signs that he's not improving these issues, he could digress very quickly. However, if he shows improvement, then he could take the leap.

    But as for tomorrow, which is the premise of this particular article, I think these are signs that are not pointing in the Bengals' favor.


    I will add this. For as much as I'm not sure if Marvin Lewis is anything above a mediocre HC, I think both Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer have been fantastic.
    "I'd knock your brains out, then pick them up later."

    -Marion Motley

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