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An In-Depth Look At Why Andy Dalton Is Not A $115 Million Dollar Man

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Shit hit the fan this morning as the Bengals announced that they?ve signed Andy Dalton to a 6 year extension with the number $115 million attached. While that?s a number that he?ll never come to realize (as with nearly all recent 9-figure QB contracts), I don?t need to wait for the terms of this contract to know that this is good news for the Baltimore Ravens and the rest of the AFC North. You see, Andy Dalton isn?t good at football.

Andy Dalton is largely a product of the assets around him. It?s no secret that AJ Green is a top 5 receiver in the league, and will be for years. Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert are both very reliable targets. But where Dalton really benefits is his offensive line. His O-line has done a tremendous job over his 3 seasons of hiding his biggest flaw. He?s an absolute bed-wetter with pressure directly in his face. See GIFs below.

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As you can see, he’s terrible when a pass rusher has a clear shot at him. Most quarterbacks are. But he’s especially bad. Since anyone can throw a series of GIFs together and make a QB look poor, allow me to throw some further information (shamelessly lifted from Grantland?s Bill Barnwell) at you to make my point:

“Among the 34 quarterbacks with 500 or more dropbacks over this three-year stretch, the average passer?s QBR was cut by more than half (52.4 percent) when he was either hassled or hit by a pass-rusher. Dalton is not so lucky. Already just a league-average quarterback when nobody?s bothering him, Dalton?s QBR under duress falls to a lowly 11.1, a drop of 81.4 percent. That leaves him as the fifth-most stressed by pressure, and the four guys in front of him don?t make for a bright future:

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Gabbert (17.6) actually has a higher QBR under pressure than Dalton. There are several good passers just below Dalton who suffer dramatically with pressure in their face, like Peyton Manning (86.8 QBR without pressure, 26.7 QBR under duress) and Drew Brees (80.3 QBR without pressure, 26.5 QBR under duress), but they?re so good when not bothered that they can slip by. Dalton can?t; over the past three years, when hit or hurried, Dalton?s gone 72-of-217 (33.2 percent) for 932 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

?According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dalton has been under duress on just 15.9 percent of his dropbacks over the past three seasons, the fourth-lowest rate among our 34 regulars. Only Tom Brady, Hasselbeck, and Manning were under duress less frequently over that time frame. That figure falls to 12 percent on plays in which teams rush four.4 Dalton can?t handle pressure, but his saving grace is that he sees it less than just about anybody else in the league.”

So yeah, it?s easy to see that the environment in which Dalton has played is an easy one for a QB to thrive. And that environment isn?t here to stay long-term. The Bengals are moving from Jay Gruden?s west coast offense, featuring shorter (and safer) dropbacks that better accommodates Dalton?s deficiencies, to a more balanced offense that will have him take more traditional drops. Guys are going to get to Dalton and give him fits. AJ Green is signed through 2015 with a large $10.176 million cap hit in 2015, and will command a large contract for years 3 through 6 of Dalton?s contract. Given these cap constraints, I find it hard to believe that Cincinnati will be able to keep the same offensive line around that has protected him so well.

Obviously people are going to compare Flacco and Dalton?s contracts. While I won?t sit here and say Flacco?s contract is a good one, but it?s far more justifiable than Dalton?s. Just look at their playoff numbers. One has a 9-4 record, 19/8 TD to INT ratio, and a Super Bowl ring. The other?

Abysmal. And the teams that he?s faced in those 3 losses have picked him apart with the pass rush. The NFL has taken notice, and his numbers are going to falter. Dalton?s contract is a dud.

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