As much as the Eagles/Saints doing their best to constrict each other’s offensive strengths, while still putting up 50 points, was more my type of contest, it’s difficult to gripe about the quality of NFL action this weekend.
Really, the only element that kept us from a perfectly exciting quartet of games was another early January Wild Card round of misfires by Andy Dalton. The third year QB can tout three straight playoff Bengal playoff appearances, which is unprecedented to think of for anyone under 30. Dalton’s also helped engineer three straight playoff wins…for the opponent. Dalton’s the owner of 1 TD pass and 6 INTs in the playoffs. His 67 QB rating against San Diego is actually his best showing to date. SEE, HE’S IMPROVING! By the time we elect a 45h President, Dalton should have ramped himself up to ‘quality playoff performer!’
Fire Marvin Lewis? That would be a present to any of the teams currently seeking a new head coach. Lewis being the Bengals HC for so long isn’t a Ford-sian misstep by Cincy management, under Lewis that team has returned to relevance upon his arrival.
Attempt to improve the QB situation? That’s the fulcrum of Cincinnati’s offseason blue print.
As teams evaluate Jay Gruden as a head coach, their interest and intentions could help the Bengals in deciding whether Gruden has helped max out Dalton’s modest given gifts and skills, or if Gruden’s instructions and guidance are actually restricting Dalton from reaching greater heights.
Personally, I was surprised he was drafted as highly as he was by the Bengals in ’11, and I even more stunned that Dalton performed so unexpectedly well as a rookie.
We saw yet again this weekend, that team’s fortunes are always tied to the QB. The Bengals have plenty of talent on their roster – talent other teams surely crave – but against playoff competition, often even the most talented of teams can’t escape the sharpest nail that can be driven into a coffin; multiple turnover games by the QB.
Shockingly, the Bengals probably aren’t going to be able to pull a more talented franchise QB out of thin air.
Not that I’d think Dalton would need any more motivation than how unmerciful Bengals fans are directing rage towards him now, but perhaps they select a rather humble project-type QB in the mid-rounds of the draft this year. A name like Zach Mettenberger, or Aaron Murray. Both of whom have had success in the SEC, and both are coming off knee injuries that’ll hinder their draft stock. If not those two, then possibly David Fales of San Jose State, who early in the season was mentionded with the likes of Manziel, Mariota, Bridgewater. Fales’ team won six games, missed a bowl and it’s been a deafening silence surrounding him as other candidates like Blake Bortles have emerged.
What about the veteran route, hoping the Bengals can lift up a rock and polish up a tarnished gem as the Cardinals did with the ending days of Kurt Warner?
Here’s your list of 2014 free agent quarterbacks.
Is Josh McCown for real or a product of Marc Trestman mysticism? Will he remain a bear backup, or just retire?
Matt Schaub? He’s gonna get the boot from Houston for the same reason Cincy would want a new QB.
Mark Sanchez? Don’t laugh. I think it’s fairly difficult to evaluate just how good of a player Sanchez is because of the cesspool of chaos he’s been subjected to within the mismanaged Jets organization.
Even before conjuring up any of these players, the one former Pro Bowler who could make a difference in January for the Bengals that jumped to mind is Michael Vick. I’ve followed the Eagles long enough to know that I don’t trust Vick to stay healthy, and when he is capable of staying on the field, you get one of two Vick’s. The highlight reel Vick who still can rocket balls to receivers, and create the occasional magic on the run or the lowlight reel Vick who’s incapable of not turning the ball over repeatedly.
However, without a trade for someone elsess young backup who can’t crack a lineup (Kirk Cousins?) that comes with its own risk, there’s not going to be a QB available that has the upside, and the ability to shine in the playoffs (if he’s not broken in half after how many ever games he plays) like Vick.