Andy Dalton is proving his naysayers wrong every time the second year quarterback takes the field. Taken in the second round, with the 35th pick, of the 2011 NFL Draft from Texas Christian University, Dalton was drafted by the Bengals. Though, he was highly praised by the talking heads from all of the networks, many still doubted his ability.
The quarterback had led his university to four winning seasons as the starter of the Horned Frogs. In his first season as a starter at TCU, Dalton finished the season with an 8-5 record and was named the 2007 Texas Bowl MVP. In 2008, his Horned Frogs were ranked 7th nationally after an 11-2 season and Dalton was named the Poinsettia Bowl MVP. Then, in his next season, the quarterback led his team on an undefeated run with a 12-0 record. The young quarterback repeated the perfection the very next season in 2010 and led his team to a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.
After all of these accolades and a 42-7 career record as a starter at TCU, the quarterback still went in the second round of the draft. Many scouts said it was because his arm strength wasn’t there for the down-the-field pass. So the Bengals were able to steal him in the second round to replace their quarterback, who had recently made it known he would not be suiting up for the team anymore.
Andy Dalton’s first season was refreshing for Bengals’ fans. They had just watched their team put together a dismal 4-12 season in 2010 and had lost three stars from their team in Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, and Terrell Owens. Now their offense was being led by a rookie and, due to injuries, their brightest star was the team’s first round draft pick, a wide receiver, taken that same year. Needless to say, fans were not expecting much from the 2011 team.
That first season, Dalton did something that no one close to the organization could have ever guessed. He took that team that had just four wins the year before and led them to a 9-7 record. The, then rookie, quarterback was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October, only to earn the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors in November. He also won the Emerging Player Award at the end of the season and was voted into the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Not only did he collect awards, Dalton broke records in his first year in the NFL. The quarterback is one of five rookie quarterbacks, in the history of the NFL, to throw for over 3,000 passing yards and at least 20 touchdown passes. He also broke NFL records for completions and yards to that other rookie on the team, A.J. Green. Andy Dalton topped his rookie season off with a trip to the playoffs.
Still, at the start of his second year, many people doubted him. The sophomore slump question was raised and that same arm strength doubt reared its ugly head once again. Those same doubters were still not believers.
Dalton started his second season in the NFL strong. He led his team to a 3-1 record right out of the gate. However, things took a turn for the worst, as the team went on a 4 game losing streak. In those losses, many blamed Dalton. His interception rate was high and he was ranked in the bottom of the NFL in turnover ratio. Those naysayers couldn’t keep Andy down, though. The quarterback came back out in week 10 and carried his team to a blow out of the defending Super Bowl champions.
Since then, the second year quarterback has been interception free and taken his team from a losing record to a tie for the last AFC Wild Card spot. With the team’s win last week, Andy Dalton, also joined an elite group of NFL quarterbacks. He joins Peyton Manning and Dan Marino as the only players in NFL history to throw at least 20 touchdown passes in their first two seasons in the league.
With yet another accomplishment under his belt and surrounded by such great company in Marino and big-brother Manning, one could say that the young Bengal quarterback has proved his worth. If he can get his team back to the playoffs this year, it will be the first time in Cincinnati’s history that the team has had back to back playoff berths. He will be a made-man in the Queen City. Will those outside looking in begin to believe?