Since Nov. 13 Andy Dalton has lost more games than he did in his final two years at TCU. That can happen when you play in the NFL, particularly in Cincinnati where losing is an additive in the water.
Seems Dalton has run into a few problems en route to leading the Bengals to a winning record, the playoffs, and the NFL's rookie of the year award. He played the Steelers, Ravens and Steelers again in less than one month, and lost them all. The once 6-2 Bengals are now 7-5 and because of the division their playoff forecast is doubtful with a 50 percent chance of no chance.
Doesn't matter. I remain totally in the bag for Dalton, and am more convinced than ever he can do what no other Bengals QB has done since the days of the should-be Hall of Famer, Ken Anderson. I know - this includes Boomer Esiason. In very little time Dalton has proven worthy of wearing Anderson's No. 14.
There, however, remains a rather crucial step that Dalton must take before we can bother making any proper comparisons between the two.
People around TCU who are familiar with Dalton's career as a Horned Frog may not know that when Anderson played in the '70s and early '80s the Bengals were good.
"The problem was we were in the same division as one of the best teams ever in Pittsburgh," Anderson said.
The single biggest reason why the team was so good was Anderson, who should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Bengals reached the Super Bowl in 1982 - and should have won. They reached it again in 1989 with Boomer as their QB, and pretty much since losing that game in painful fashion they have been the NFL's Clippers.
Now they have the Red Baron, wearing Anderson's No. 14, and looking a lot like him.
"I think he has done a remarkable job considering they had no offseason and no OTAs because of the lockout," Anderson said. "Until training camp started, the only thing he had done was some of the workouts the players did on their own but that is different than sitting down with coaches and quarterback coaches and going over everything. He has made some rookie mistakes. But when I was up there and talking to (Bengals owner) Mike Brown, (Dalton) really looks like he belongs out there."
For the season, Dalton is completing 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,644 yards with 17 TDs and 12 Ints. In losses against the Steelers on Nov. 13 and at Baltimore on Nov. 20 he had the Bengals in position to tie late, but either threw a pick or didn't get it done.
Some of this was going to happen. The Bengals are flawed, but there is hope and the new No. 14 is the biggest reason why that this once proud franchise that was led by the iconic Paul Brown can start winning again.
"I think it's been tough on all former players," Anderson said of watching what has become of his former team. "I get back three or four times a year and play charity golf outings and see former teammates. To see the Bengals perceived as a bad franchise is tough because we were pretty good when we played. It seems like it's going in the right direction. Andy is one of them with young players. (WR) A.J. Green is another one. The Carson Palmer trade is going to get them some high draft picks. Hopefully it's going to get better."
Dalton is not going to get this done this season because he's not there yet, and neither is the roster. There are holes. It would really help if owner Mike Brown just left the franchise, but the Bengals are his meal ticket so that's not going to happen. Having Mike Brown run your team is the equivalent of Dalton playing five-card draw with four cards.
If there is anyone that can win that hand, Dalton can. He just needs more games, and more players on both sides of the ball to do this.
"It's reps. It's experience. It's going out there and seeing defenses," said Anderson, who is 61 and retired and living in Hilton Head, S.C. "It’s going through all of it. This will be a big offseason where he has a chance to look at every snap and grow from that. I think he's doing a really good job."
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