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Bill Polian: Drafting Andy Dalton would have saved my job

Bill-Polian-ColtsThe Indianapolis Colts chose not to draft a quarterback in the early rounds of the 2011 NFL draft, knowing that Peyton Manning had undergone a series of neck surgeries and was out indefinitely. The Colts didn’t have a viable backup quarterback, and the end result was a league-worst 2-14 season.

After the Colts succeeded* with their “Suck for Andrew Luck” campaign, it was clear Manning’s time in Indianapolis had come to an end. Had the Colts drafted someone like Andy Dalton — who led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs as a rookie — a year prior, former team president Bill Polian believes he would have kept his job. This from NFL Media’s Judy Battista:

The collapse cost executives and coaches their jobs and created a cautionary tale for those who work in a league that is ever more reliant on the quarterback — and ever more at a loss when it comes to managing without one.

Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said teams think back to that situation all the time. Former Colts president Bill Polian, currently serving as an analyst on ESPN despite being widely regarded as one of the best team-builders in the game, ruefully told Lewis that he wouldn’t be working in television now if he had only drafted Andy Dalton in the spring of 2011 to be Manning’s backup.

The thinking is that Dalton would have provided a one year stop-gap and helped the Colts avoid a disaster of a season. They would have held onto Manning after that and still been Super Bowl contenders, as we all saw the recovery Peyton made with the Denver Broncos.

However, we know it is not always that simple. No two situations are alike. Jim Caldwell had grown used to having an offense that was catered to Manning, and there’s no guarantee the team would have known how to use Dalton the way the Bengals did. Polian may be working as an ESPN analyst due to a lack of quarterback depth, but the Colts are probably better off for it in the long run.

H/T Around the League

Andy Dalton signs 6-year, $115 million extension with Bengals

Andy-Dalton-Bengals-fansAndy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals have agreed on a six-year contract extension worth around $115 million. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The structure of the contract is unknown at this point. Before everyone starts freaking out over Andy Dalton being one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, just remember this is not Major League Baseball. In the NFL, a contract is only as good as its guarantees.

Colin Kaepernick signed a massive contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this summer that is loaded with de-escalators that can lower the value of the deal if he does not perform at a high level. The Niners can also take it year by year with Kaepernick and cut him by April 1st each offseason if they so choose.

While Dalton’s contract is likely to be structured more like Kaepernick’s than the five-year, $110 million extension Aaron Rodgers recently signed, it is still a lot of money for an unproven quarterback. The Bengals are obviously optimistic about the 26-year-old, even if he does have an 0-3 playoff record with one touchdown pass and six interceptions in the postseason.

Andy Dalton commits three straight turnovers to kill Bengals (GIFs)

Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton crushed the Cincinnati Bengals’ chances of beating San Diego at home in their wild card playoff game on Sunday by committing three turnovers in a row during the third and fourth quarter.

The first turnover occurred when Dalton scrambled for a first down and dove head first but lost the ball. The Chargers recovered at the 46 and ended up with a field goal to go up 17-10.

On the Bengals’ next possession, Dalton was intercepted by Shareece Wright, who returned the ball to the 3-yard line:

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Pacman Jones: I’m 99 percent sure Andy Dalton can lead us to a Super Bowl

andy-daltonAndy Dalton has been one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the NFL since joining the Cincinnati Bengals three years ago. He isn’t going to throw for 5,000 yards like Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, but he is capable of doing enough to put his team in a position to win. In this age of the pass-heavy offense, can Dalton do enough to win an AFC Championship?

Adam “Pacman” Jones is very confident in his quarterback. However, there is still a small piece of him that wonders if Dalton can lead Cincinnati to a championship.

“I’d say I’m about 99% convinced that Andy can take us to the Super Bowl,” Jones told Erik Kuselias on NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk.

Pacman was then asked what Dalton would need to do for him to feel 100% confident.

“I think he just needs to step up vocally and lead the team but I think he has the tools and all the weapons to lead us there,” he replied.

In his third NFL season, now is the time Dalton needs to take his game to the next level. The Bengals have a solid defense, but it’s not good enough to reach a Super Bowl with Dalton averaging just one touchdown pass per game. He needs to do a better job of getting the ball to AJ Green and allowing him to dominate games. Scoring 13 points in a victory, like the Bengals did last week, won’t cut it most weeks.

And apparently Dalton needs to step up and lead more. The AFC does not look all that strong. We’re waiting for a top dog to emerge. It sounds like Jones is waiting for the same thing to happen within his own locker room.

Ravens DE Says Andy Dalton Gave Away Bengals’ Snap Count

Ravens rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee bragged after his team’s win over the Bengals that the defense had Andy Dalton’s number. Specifically, McPhee says they knew when Andy Dalton was going to call for the ball to be snapped.

McPhee said he noticed by studying game tape that Dalton had a tendency to let the play clock wind down to five seconds before tapping center Kyle Cook’s hip. Then, Dalton would look to his left and take the snap.

“I got a good get-off,” McPhee said. “I just knew they would snap it every time after he tapped the center’s hip. I was paying attention to that. I timed it up pretty good, 100 miles per hour.”

Sounds great, right? The truth is McPhee sacked Dalton on a 4th and goal play where Dalton was lined up in shotgun, not under center. And if the Ravens really had the rookie quarterback’s number, then why did they only have two sacks the entire game? Maybe they did get good jumps off the snap, but McPhee’s explanation doesn’t match what happened on his sack. Additionally, if McPhee really noticed something key, why would he give away the inside information when the teams are schedule to play again in week 17?

Clearly the guy isn’t as smart as he thinks.

Helmet knock to AFC North Blog

Andy Dalton’s Delta Tau Chi Name Will Now be ‘Red Rifle’

People often complain that we no longer have good nicknames in sports. They’re right. Most of the time we follow a simple (and lame) formula for nicknames: First initial, hyphen, first three letters of the athlete’s last name. It’s a simple plug and play formula that works for everyone. Best part of all? It requires no creativity.

Given this information, you’ll understand why I like anyone willing to venture out of the lame nickname formula box. It’s also why I appreciate Andy Dalton’s new nickname, as bestowed by Bengals’ play-by-play man Dan Hoard.

According to Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Hoard began calling the Bengals rookie quarterback the “Red Rifle” during last Thursday’s preseason game. Dalton apparently is fine with the nickname. “I’ll take it. I guess everyone is trying to find something and the red hair helps,” Dalton said.

I don’t know why everything about Dalton has to center around his red hair. Like we’ve never had a red-headed quarterback in the NFL before? And although I’m happy to have a nickname deviate from the tired formula, I must point out that calling a quarterback some sort of rifle is somewhat played out. Even Ron Jaworski and Ryan Fitzpatrick would say so.

Andy Dalton Scrutinized for His Red Hair

Before NFL teams decide to commit a draft pick and potential millions of dollars to a player, they try to find out everything they can about the young man. They do background checks, investigations, talk to coaches, and occasionally ask you to break dance. Seriously. But the latest level of scrutiny easily beats all others. As Pro Football Talk noted from Peter King’s column, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton’s hair color can even be a cause for concern.

King wrote in his column that “At least one team is thinking not just about Dalton’s brains but also about what’s on top of them. “Has there ever been a red-headed quarterback in the NFL who’s really done well?” a coach asked one reporter last week. “It sounds idiotic, but is there any way that could be a factor? We’ve wondered.”

If Andy Dalton slips in the draft, you think he’ll hire a lawyer to file a suit alleging fur discrimination? You think Larry David would take the stand as a witness citing his theory of baldness bias? It could happen and frankly, I’m not sure the world is ready for it. Sadly, not even going with a hip mohawk can help Dalton against this sort of scrutiny.