I just want to start by exercising my right as a blogger to say meaningless shit by saying that Andy Dalton has the reddest eyebrows I have ever seen. Seriously, so red. Take a close look sometime. It’s weird.
SO, Dalton has been having a great year as a rookie so far, and many are calling for him to be named rookie of the year. Dalton plays smart, hasn’t done too poorly in the turnover area, and makes quick and accurate decisions. Dalton has a huge upside for the Bengals. He could be their Ben Roethlisberger. This is the guy they will build their team around in the coming years.
Ben Roethlisberger had a pretty nifty rookie year himself. He broke a couple of records in the NFL for rookie QBs (no big deal), and had a winning record of 15-1, taking his team all the way to the AFC Championship game. While Ben was in his rookie season, the Steelers slayed the mighty Patriots, and snapped what was at the time an NFL record 21 game winning streak. Of course, they lost to the Pats later that year in what became infamously known as “spy gate.”
That year, Ben Roethlisberger took over for an injured Tommy Maddox and went 15-1. Ben’s completion percentage on the year was 66.4, and his passer rating on the season was an impressive 98.1. Ben fell right in to the role of savior and founder of a new generation, and hasn’t looked back since. That rookie season Ben threw for 2,621 yards and 17 TDs with 11 interceptions. For a rookie, Big Ben was blowing minds all over the place. Just bare stats, it doesn’t look like that great a season, but there’s more to football than just stats, and Ben showed that he could lead the team to better places, and step up to get the job done.
Andy Dalton is not having such a different year. He is boasting a passer rating of 81.8, not the hottest, but has already thrown for 16 TDs and 12 interceptions. The interceptions are always going to look glaring in a rookie QBs file, but they are expected, especially when their team is playing from behind all the time and need to rely on the QBs arm to bail them out. Dalton shows that he has the mentality it takes to be a winner in the league, and can take on a heavier roll in the offense. Dalton’s projected yard total for this seas is 3649, and is on pace for over 20 TDs. It should be noted that Dalton’s stats don’t look so unlike Jay Clutler’s stats last year, and Dalton is only just getting started.
So, if I were to have to pick between these two QBs for my team, I’d definitely choose Roethlisberger (what? So I’m a little biased…). Big Ben experienced some very high pressure situations in his first season, including heading deep in to the playoffs with his team. Ben showed that knack we always talk about for winning. Currently, we’re sitting at 8-3 again. Every year we win, because the man behind center knows how to make it happen. Dalton, on the other hand, hasn’t really had that big time game experience. He’ll have a shot this year if they can figure out a way to win more games. With losses to the Steelers and the Ravens, it will likely be hard for the Bengals to get a seat at the table.
The Bengals are now 7-4, just a game behind the Ravens and the Steelers. This is a must win for both the Steelers and Bengals as a loss could determine the playoff fate of either team. It will be exciting to watch Dalton play head to head with Roethlisberger. Carson Palmer 2 can really throw the ball, and he has a knack for turning big losses in to bigger gains. Dalton also has the ability to run, which Big Ben came in with, and be elusive in the passing game. There were a couple of moments in this previous match up where I thought for sure Dalton had been sacked only to find he threw the ball last second to a receiver down the field.
So don’t get me wrong, I’m not ragging on Dalton by saying I’d pick Big Ben as my rookie. Dalton is a solid rookie QB who needs to be accounted for, and cold come up with the leagues rookie of the year title. Right now, Cam Newton is on the list as well, though he hasn’t won much of anything, regardless of who they’re playing. My real point is, I will always play the guy who I believe will be able to lead my team and get them to win games. Period. Dalton may just be that guy for the Bengals. Big Ben developed in to a HOF caliber Quarterback, can Dalton do the same?
We’ll be another step closer to that answer when we find ourselves face to face this Sunday afternoon. It will be a classic AFC North battle, and the Steelers will need to rely heavily on Big Ben’s arm to make some plays against this great run defense.
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