2019 will be a massive year for the Cincinnati Bengals and with no more excuses to fall back on this could be the last chance for quarterback Andy Dalton, says our guest writer Owain Jones.
Drafted in the second round in 2011 out of TCU, Andy Dalton’s been ever-reliable for the Bengals. Having suffered numerous injuries and posting average numbers in the last few years, reliability is now the issue.
Having a recurring thumb injury, Dalton’s consecutive numbers are falling. Dalton’s appeal has always been his reliability but having failed to see the 2018 season out once more, the Bengal hierarchy will be keeping a closer eye on him.
Dalton has just two years remaining on his current contract and will have questions being asked over a possible extension all year. Owner, Mike Brown has claimed he is waiting for Dalton to re-establish himself before offering an extension. With the Bengals drafting rookie quarterback Ryan Finley in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft they are showing a growing impatience to get things done in Cincinnati.
Dalton’s primary concern should be that NFL owners don’t just want a reliable quarterback. They are looking for that guy who will win playoff games and bring them a Lombardi trophy come February. Bengals fans can argue he has been shown enough loyalty and been given enough chances. Something you rarely see in today’s NFL.
Cincinnatti taking risks
The Bengals front office has been reluctant to take risks and test the water in recent years. There is a changing of the guard in Cincinnati and a changing of the way the organisation does things. The hiring of head coach Zac Taylor shows a growing restlessness to not just be competitive in the regular season but to go deep into the playoffs.
The cutting of former linebacker, Vontaze Burfict, who they showed immense loyalty to, also shows the Bengals are trying to change the direction of their franchise. The question now remains, has Dalton taken them as far as he can go?
Dalton has never threatened to become an elite quarterback but has posted adequate numbers throughout his career under Marvin Lewis. Under Taylor’s tenure, Dalton will have to prove more than just consistency. The Bengals QB will have to showcase upper-level ability while staying healthy all year. Dalton will have to show the spark and commitment that got him to the Pro Bowl three times.
Dalton epitomises where the Bengals are at. Middle of the park, mediocre, average. We are not expecting Cincinnati to tank in 2019 entirely, but Taylor will have his work cut out to impose a winner’s philosophy into his version of the Bengals. With the other AFC North teams improving the Bengals could struggle to make an impression. Dalton will just have to hope the finger won’t be pointed in his direction.