Wednesday, September 11, 2013
QB Watch: Bengals' Andy Dalton
By Coley Harvey
A weekly analysis of the Bengals' quarterback play.
Rewind: Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said it was the best Andy Dalton had looked his entire career. When the third-year quarterback dropped back Sunday afternoon in Chicago, he apparently meant business. Completing a career-high 78.8 percent of his passes, Dalton was a key cog in the 340 yards of total offense Cincinnati put up in its 24-21 loss. In addition to a high rate of completion, Dalton successfully threw some of the more difficult passes of his career, zipping the ball into tight spaces and narrow windows that only his receivers could access.
Fast-forward: Against division opponent Pittsburgh this week, Dalton will be going against a defense that has been well prepared for his every move in games past. Dalton is 1-3 all time in meetings against the Steelers. In those same contests, his offense has averaged just 13.5 points. His 51.1 career completion percentage against the Steelers also ranks nearly 10 points lower than his 60.8 overall career completion percentage.
Quell the turnovers: The reason Dalton's passer rating wasn't perfect, despite having a career-high completion percentage and throwing for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns, was in large part due to the two turnovers he contributed to. Twice in the first half, he was intercepted by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. The first interception came after Tillman read Dalton's eyes perfectly and jumped a quick route to receiver A.J. Green. The second came when Green bobbled a well-thrown pass into Tillman's hands. Dalton can't have turnovers Monday night.
Prediction: Dalton may not be able to put up 282 yards of passing offense on Pittsburgh, but he will complete passes this time around. Motivated by the Week 1 loss, he'll put his past behind him and have a much-needed dominating performance.