Only three quarterbacks have led their teams to the playoffs in each of the last 4 seasons; Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton.
The difference between these three players is that Andy Dalton has only been in the league for four years.
As a matter of fact, Dalton is the only quarterback in NFL history besides Joe Flacco to have led his team to the postseason in each of his first four seasons in the league.
Despite his name being mentioned with elite company, his critics are not impressed. The fact that he has failed to win a playoff game has earned him the “choker” title in their eyes.
He has been labeled “inconsistent and inaccurate” even though his 14,758 passing yards, and 99 passing TDs over his first 4 years, edge out the 13,919 passing yards, and 97 TDs from Tom Brady’s first 4 years as a starter.
Aside from a slight decline last season, when his top two receivers, and tight end missed a total of 23 games between the 3 of them, Dalton has been the poster child of consistency. Yet his detractors have somehow managed to make him a laughingstock.
However, instead of making him bitter, it only seemed to spur him on. While they were mocking him, the “Red Rifle” set out improve on an already successful young career.
That’s why Dalton met with quarterback guru Tom House for two weeks before offseason team activities even began to start working on his throwing mechanics.
“It’s helped me out where I have an understanding to make throws easier for me,” Dalton said. “It’s just trying to fine-tune certain things to have everything working for me. I’ve got a better understanding of where I am mechanically and how things feel when things don’t go right, and how to be able to make a quick fix.”
That fix is proving to have worked as Dalton has led his team to a perfect 4-0 record in 2015, and is off to a hot start himself. The QB who everyone else was pointing at with disdain, has completed 67.2 % of his passes on the way to 1187 yards, 9 touchdowns, just 1 interception and a quarterback rating of 123.0.
“I feel like I’m the right kind of strong right now,” Dalton said about House’s training program which aims to strengthen the specific muscles used to make throws.
Due to his dedicated training, not only does Dalton look stronger physically, but he appears to be in complete control of his offense.
“He’s done a good job. He really has,” Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson said of Dalton. “I see an improved player. I see an improved leader. I see an improved guy within the offense.”
His critics will counter with the fact that Dalton has been here before. The Bengals started 4-0 last year and he still failed to win even a single playoff game.
“We see a quarterback who is emerging, who has been through a lot,” said Jackson. “He did everything a quarterback needed to do in the off-season, both physically and mentally, and we have created an environment for him to be as successful as a quarterback can be. I hear what people have said about him. But I see what is on the other side. There are things about him that people do not see. They say he doesn’t have passion. They say he doesn’t have the work ethic. All totally untrue. He has the burning desire to be the best. I see it every day.
You have to love a kid who already signed his dream contract, a 6 year, 96 million pact with 17 mil guaranteed, but is still playing like a rookie fighting for a roster spot.
Others may count him out, but as long as he remains focused, Andy Dalton will have the last laugh.