Many around the NFL are ogling over the year that Cam Newton has had. Cam Newton had come into the 2011 draft surrounded by so much controversy, though ended up being selected first overall by the struggling Carolina Panthers who just one earlier had drafted Jimmy Clausen. Three other QB’S would go off the board before the man we are about to talk about. Jake Locker would be the next QB, following would be Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and then Andy Dalton. Andy Dalton would be selected by the Cincinnati Bengal’s in the second round (35 overall) Andy Dalton would be going to what most assumed as a franchise on the decline, more questions then answers. Carson Palmer had all but retired from the team, two of their top Wide Receiver’s had been traded and or not coming back, their top running back was not under contract and Marvin Lewis had been given the lame duck 1 year contract offer. On the flipside of this, Cam Newton would be going to a team with a rookie head coach trying to dig it’s franchise out of the graveyard, to build the fanbase back up once again. The season began with a bang, Cam Newton had seemed worthy of the number one overall pick, Andy Dalton would get the starting nod and seemed to hold his own against the struggling Browns as well. Wait, Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengal’s were not favored to win this game, in fact punchlines were already in the works on white notecards. Not only did the Cincinnati Bengal’s win this game but Andy Dalton would toss two TD’S and pass for over 200 yards. The Cincinnati Bengal’s and it’s fanbase riding a high would go on to face the Denver Broncos. Cincinnati would lose this game but Andy Dalton would go on to pass for 332 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The production would be coming from a quarterback who’s arm strength was in question, his ability to have zing on a ball, to make the throws that are needed in the NFL to be successful. Andy Dalton would have none of this talk. To date, Andy Dalton has thrown for 1,696 yards, 12 TD’S and 7 INT’S, these are not rookie numbers. Andy Dalton is playing at a level deserving of rookie of the year. Andy Dalton had been selected in the second round yet playing better then that of Blaine Gabbert and debateably Cam Newton. Andy Dalton has taken an organization with little to no hope and produced wins. NFL analysis were clamoring for the Cincinnati Bengal’s to go after a seasoned vet and have Andy Dalton sit and learn for awhile, when your Vet QB quits on the team, you unfortunately do not get that luxury. Andy Dalton has not just put up the numbers deserving of rookie of the year, he’s helped put the Cincinnati Bengal’s right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture, in fact, if the season were to end today Cincinnati would have the first seed in the AFC playoffs. Andy Dalton didn’t come into the NFL with fanfare, the only attention Dalton would receive would be tied to Cincinnati and it’s faltering franchise that Dalton would be unlucky enough to end up with, or so we thought. Cam Newton himself has said that what is most important is wins, Andy Dalton has the wins and the numbers deservig of rookie of the year. The question that should be asked is, are you willing to give rookie of the year to a QB who has only been able to muster two wins for his team? Carolina much like Cincinnati had been pegged to falter early on. The difference? Cicinnati has exceeded expectations for it’s struggling franchise with the help of two rookies in A.J Green and young signal caller Andy Dalton. When you take every aspect of what it means to play in the NFL, numbers, wins and leadership, there is no question that Cam Newton comes in as a very very close second to Andy Dalton. There is no logical reason that Dalton shouldn’t win rookie of the year. Cam Newton has had a great year in living up to his first overall draft status, Dalton ? The guy has surpassed that of what most first rounders before him had been capable of doing, this includes a string of 5 straight wins.
With the first pick in the 1983 draft, the Baltimore Colts select John Elway out of Stanford. Once the pick had been announced by Pete Rozelle, you could hear the chatter pick up in the draft room. Later that day John Elway would declare that he would play Major League Baseball instead, that announcement had come from the first overall pick, the guy who had the hype and holding all of the cards to the deck. Lucky enough for the younger generation, we live in a day in age of a little something called youtube, where history is at our fingertips. What is apparent to anyone who takes a look at this clip would be the similarities to that of Andrew Luck. We’ve heard the terms ” the next Peyton Manning” “The greatest QB prospect since John Elway” Sure, both QB’s played for Stanford, even more similar is the pre-draft hype. Andrew Luck will be entering the NFL with what a lot of people have agreed is unfair expectations. This is clear with the silly “Suck For Luck” campaign going on by NFL fans and rumored NFL team ownership. To think that any NFL team would ever engage in such silly activity would really be quite absurd. We have lived through the Ryan Leaf era, we remember Joey Harrington, Jamarcus Russell, Akili Smith, David Klingler, Tim Couch,David Carr, care for me to continue? Sure it’s unfair to suggest that Andrew Luck could be a David Klingler or David Carr, though I’d argue that the assessment of being ” the greatest prospect since John Elway” is just as silly. We all agree that the NFL and college are just two different entities. The NFL has a Ray Lewis, Ndamukong Suh, Brian Urlacher, grown men who get paid to rip the QB’s head off. The speed of the NFL game is fast and takes time to adjust. When an NFL franchise invests a first round pick in a QB or any position for that matter, those on the personnel side, GM, Owner and Coach do not anticipate the pick being a bust, quite the opposite.I’ll agree that Andrew Luck could turn out to be Peyton Manning if you agree that he could turn out to be his NFL counterpart that year in Ryan Leaf. Nobody knows until the guy takes a snap, even then QB adjustment to the NFL takes time. Fair or Unfair, the hype will continue
“Your record is misleading” ” You had a great year, be proud of 8-8″ Your future is bright but this just isn’t going to be the year” “you’re young and will falter against bigger more experienced teams” What you see are quotes and opinions around the NFL about the Cincinnati Bengal’s, there is just one problem with the above, the Cincinnati Bengal’s are sitting at 6-2 and have the best record in the AFC right now. According to many people ” we are a product of our easy schedule” There is a big game brewing in Cincinnati this weekend, the game is a sellout. The Steelers and their star power are coming to town. On the other side you have a young signal caller in Andy Dalton, a WR who is also a rookie yet playing like a seasoned vet, a defense that is holding solid and actually winning games for this young team. One year ago at this time nobody gave the Cincinnati Bengal’s a fighting chance, and why would you? The Bengal’s had just come off another disappointing season, questiones swirled around Marvin Lewis and his one year contract offer. Carson Palmer had declared retirement before he would ever take another snap in stripes again, Chad Ocho had turned into a celebrity reality star along with his sidekick T.O, those kind of questions would make anyone doubt that you’d have any legitimate chance of anything other then a complete rebuilding year. Many had marked the first year QB Andy Dalton dead in the water, pinning the Bengal’s as the team to once again be drafting a QB first overall. One thing that people had forgotten to take into consideration, that one thing would be the word believe. After trading players like Chad Ocho, not bringing T.O back and agreeing to let Carson Palmer, a player who quit on the Bengal’s organization settle into retirement, the vibes were good. The Bengal’s went on to draft A.J Green who many saw as the best NFL draft prospect, better then that of even Cam Newton, with the second round pick the Bengal’s went on to get one of the winningest QB’S in College Football history in Andy Dalton. Some in the NFL world were clamoring for Carson Palmer to come back for just one final year before being traded, Palmer nor the Cincinnati Bengal’s would agree to those terms. Many people who saw the Cincinnati Bengal’s practice and training camp would swear that this team was on the cusp of something special, people out the outside would hear none of it. Andy Dalton would be named the starter and go on to beat the Cleveland Browns in what at the time was not known but would be the start of what the insiders had originally thought, something special building. The next game would be against the Denver Broncos, this game was a loss however.. something happened in that game, Andy Dalton would pass for over 300 yards and Jerome Simpson would go on to have a 100 plus yard game, oh and that rookie, A.J Green would go on to have the second most Receiving yards of the day( 124 yards) The next game would also be a loss, the last loss as a matter of fact. What cannot be lost in this shuffle is the Mike Zimmer Defense, players like Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson Manny Lawson, we can’t forget about the great secondary that seems to be holding fine with the loss of Johnathan Joseph. Lets fast forward to 11/8/2011 on a Tuesday afternoon, these Bengal’s are preparing for a battle in the Jungle. The Cincinnati Bengal players and coaches are building a scheme, a game plan to topple the Steelers this Sunday, to make it just a little harder for the naysayers to come up with a reason or doubt has descended into more then an afterthought. Nobody will deny that when you play Pittsburgh and Baltimore back to back, two formidable opponents, no matter who you are this will be tough. The Cincinnati have beat the teams that a 6-2 team should beat, you lost to a very good San Francisco team but so did Detroit, you lost to the Denver Broncos but are they really that bad? Next up is the Steelers, a powerhouse division foe. Most people will be picking against the Cincinnati Bengal’s but who needs them? This is the same base who thought Buffalo would fail miserably and be leaving on a jet plan to Los Angeles, how did that work out? What this Cincinnati Bengal’s team needs to do is what they’ve done for the past 8 weeks, defy the naysayers and ignore the hate. The only way to muzzle people like Slash and some of the ” experts” on ESPN is to do what Al Davis always said, just win baby.