The Bengals have a long history of falling short of expectations, and Andy Dalton has dutifully continued the tradition over the last two years. Since making the playoffs in his rookie season, a wonderful surprise for all of Cincinnati, there has been a lot more expected of Dalton than simply making the playoffs. Now, after three dreadful postseason performances, fans, analysts and possibly players are looking for any excuse to throw Dalton to the curb.
With all the negativity surrounding Dalton, it seems that Boomer Esiason is the only person left defending the young quarterback. Luckily, by simply being the best quarterback in franchise history, Esiason’s opinion still tends to carry some weight within the Bengals fan base.
Before the 2013 season, as backlash began to mount against Dalton, Esiason said, “People have to calm down. You have to remember that Andy Dalton plays in a conference with (Joe) Flacco, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. I mean come on. Everybody has to calm down. I’m not down on Dalton at all, I’m a buyer.”
Even today, after Dalton’s largest disappointment yet, Esiason is still a believer.
“I never had a season like he had this year. He’ll be fine,” said Esiason. “The trajectory is like this, 9-7, 10-6, 11-5, 22 touchdowns, 27 touchdowns, 33 touchdowns. The guy is a really good player. Everyone just has to calm down.”
While the numbers are technically correct, they aren’t necessarily a great way to compare the careers of Dalton and Esiason, or anyone else of that generation. In 1988, Esiason led the NFL in passer rating and won the MVP. Likewise, he was considered an elite quarterback for much of his career, something that has never been said of Dalton.
Esiason may be correct in telling everyone to “calm down”, but there is no reason for anyone to believe that Dalton is a great, or even a possibly great, quarterback. He has to prove it.
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