Andy Dalton
(Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

I’ve been convinced forever that Andy Dalton didn’t have what it takes to lead the Bengals to be a winning team. It’s been clear for about five years that this guy wasn’t a winner, and I don’t know why it took the Bengals so long to swallow that truth. Listen I get that there was potential with him when he first came into the league, the Bengals reached the playoffs for four straight seasons, however, they lost in the wild card round EVERY SINGLE TIME. How do you reach the playoffs for four straight years, and not record one single win? 

That unfortunate stat has been the punchline for Dalton’s career, and it’s a shame to see. I’d argue the 2012 and 2013 seasons were his finest, but ever since then, he’s been nothing but a mediocre quarterback since then. I still to this day don’t understand why they threw $96 million at him, instead of Rex Ryan’s shitty ass take on Amari Cooper, THIS was arguably one of the best disappearing acts in the league. JaMarcus Russell is still the king of that narrative in my mind. 

Sure he can consistently keep a fathomable touchdown to interception ratio and throw the ball for over 3,000 yards, but if you watch this guy play, it just never seemed like he was in sync with his offense. Now the blame isn’t completely on him, in a way it’s not because when your offensive line has given up over 40 sacks three times in the past four years I understand your consistency will suffer. Outside of the addition of Jonah Williams last season, it just doesn’t seem like the Bengals have been making the offensive line a real priority which clearly plays a huge factor in Dalton’s demise. The Bengals have managed to keep Dalton, A.J Green and Geno Atkins in town for an extended period of time, everyone else has been virtually expendable, and the one real future talent on the team in Joe Mixon is preparing to hold out if he doesn’t get his money.

However, the offense starts and ends with the quarterback and with nine years to get it right, I don’t know if Dalton needed to get in the GM’s ear about personnel changes, or talk to his various head coaches about potential scheme changes, but all I know is that when things are going right you take a good look at yourself, and then take a good look at what’s working and what isn’t working. In the Bengals case, things haven’t been working for nine years, you can go through every coach and every front office position you want, but until you shift the culture around that team it won’t happen. I don’t care how pretty Joe Burrow looks dropping back there, if he doesn’t have a line that can protect him, running backs that can hit the holes, receivers and tight ends who can block and catch, along with a defense who can keep him on the field, you’re just going to waste another quarterback’s career.

Teams like the Seahawks, 49ers and Ravens all used to be the laughingstock of the league at one point, but they shifted the CULTURE, and got people in the door who not only fit that culture, but who also could get the job done consistently. The Bengals are capable of that change, and it definitely began with getting Dalton out of the door, no indictment on Dalton because he’ll certainly find a job on another team within no time, but it’s going to be a few years of tedious rebuilding before the Bengals prepare to use up another quarterback, no matter how talented he is.

 Getting Dalton out of the door was a necessary loss so that the Bengals could really signal a rebuild with Burrow, I agree that was necessary. However, until that organization truly gets it right from top to bottom and starts putting people on the field and in the offices who can make a real difference, the Bengals are just going to waste another potential Hall of Fame career.