Andy Dalton raises concerns for Cincinnati Bengals

  • By Gregg Rosenthal
  • Updated: Jan. 6, 2013 at 01:22 a.m.

Andy Dalton has led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs twice in two seasons. His stats look fine on paper.

So why does he so often look so underwhelming?

Dalton's 127-yard, one-interception performance in the team's 19-13 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday was not a huge surprise to anyone that's watched him over the second half of the season. The Bengals were winning despite Dalton, and his struggles have to concern the organization long-term.

It's not a question of whether Dalton is any good. It's obvious he's capable. It's whether he has the potential to be great. He has limitations as a thrower and struggled with accuracy. It was discouraging to see him truly take a step back in his second season mentally. He often seemed hesitant to make a throw, even when it was there. Too many passes went out of bounds. The game hasn't slowed down for him.

Saturday's game was a perfect example. A.J. Green beat the defense deep three times in the second half. Dalton hit him once. He also put way too much air under a ball on a throw into the end zone, allowing Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph to recover on the play. Dalton also overthrew Green on Cincinnati's last drive for a would-be go-ahead touchdown. With the season on the line, Dalton didn't give his offense's best player a chance.

It's become a bit of a trend. Green was one-on-one in the red zone in the third quarter, and Dalton threw it out of bounds. He finishes the season with four touchdowns and six picks in his last six games. He didn't average over 7 yards per attempt once in that stretch.

It may seem like we're being overly harsh, but it's not like the Bengals don't know these problems. There are very real quarterback traits that Dalton struggles with. As Mark Sanchez shows, you can't judge a quarterback's promise simply on early playoff appearances.