Mac Engel

Dear Cincy: Don’t forget how far Andy Dalton has brought you

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, stretching before a game against the Browns in December, has guided the Bengals to four straight playoff appearances but his future with the team is in question.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, stretching before a game against the Browns in December, has guided the Bengals to four straight playoff appearances but his future with the team is in question. AP

Dear Cincinnati,

The word floating from the Queen City down the Ohio via the Trinity River to the Stockyards and here in Fort Worth is that you have grown tired of your starting quarterback of the Bengals.

In any other circumstance, we would not give a bleep about a Bengals quarterback but, in the particular case of the Andy Dalton, a large number of us down here have a vested interest in his career.

Having been born at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and for years claiming the Bengals as my own, do not take this man for granted as a player or a human being. Remember where you were before Andy Dalton arrived to your awful, horrible, wretched, bad-joke franchise.

These days, our favorite former TCU quarterback who led the Horned Frogs to their greatest glory in the modern era is in the Cincy Sports Pit of Shame because of his playoff record.

He is also back in Fort Worth, where he and his family reside in the off-season, and preparing for his annual charity event Wednesday at Joe T. Garcia’s.

The event is open to the public. It raises money for Cook Children’s hospital, and specifically, a room at the hospital where kids can play with electronics while they receive treatment for some truly scary stuff. He also has a charity in Cincinnati.

Andy may be bland in interviews, but this man is everything we say we want in our high-profile athletes. He produces, and then, we absolutely destroy him for not winning every big game every single time.

“Yeah, there needs to be patience, but we are in a league where you have to win now and ‘What have you done for me lately?’” Dalton said in a recent phone interview. “I understand that. You get compared to guys who have been in the league for 10 years and playing the best football. You can look at [Drew] Brees or [Peyton] Manning and some of those guys — it takes a while.”

No, Andy Dalton did not just compare himself to Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, other than to say it takes time for even the best and most celebrated.

Dalton has not been perfect, but no man has done more for this team than he has. No, he’s not Bengals Super Bowl QB Boomer Esiason and he is not Ken Anderson — who should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — but Dalton has legitimized your franchise by being Andy Dalton. He helped raise expectations for a franchise that previously had zero.

It is not Dalton’s fault the man who owns and operates his team is the single cheapest owner in all of professional sports. Now that Donald Sterling has been kicked from his perch in the basement in the NBA, Mike Brown rivals Dan Snyder as the worst. The too bad part is that, by all accounts, Brown is a decent, congenial man who is simply rooted in antiquated and cheap ways to run a team.

That is not Andy Dalton’s fault.

Dalton is 40-23-1 in his career as a starter with the Bengals, and led this team to four consecutive playoff appearances, and three straight double-digit win seasons.

To put that in perspective, before Dalton arrived in 2011, the Bengals had been open for business since 1968 and never made four straight playoff appearances. Before Dalton arrived, this team had never won 10 or more games in three straight years.

The Bengals have put a good team around him, and he is in a brutal division that features the Steelers and Ravens, but at 27, he still has time to grow before he hits his ceiling.

“People look at the negative stuff — that I haven’t done this or that,” he said. “They don’t look at the stuff that we have done, or few have since we got there. But that’s how it is today, and I understand that. You can play it however you want.”

Dalton’s contract is such that the team can cut him at minimal cost after this season, and if the Bengals don’t win a playoff game, even a patient man like Brown might hit the dump button. There is a belief around the Bengals that they are good enough to be better than what they are, and the quarterback gets the blame.

I am not blind — he has to be better. In his four playoff games, he has one touchdown and six interceptions. He has to be more of a vertical threat, and with receiver A.J. Green, there is no reason not to have better numbers. It may not be in there, but to give up on him now after all that he is done is dumb.

I am also not (that) dumb — this team was an embarrassment before Dalton arrived. It’s not a coincidence that the team has improved since he took over.

No, he’s not Tom Brady, but who is?

Cincy, before you cut Andy Dalton and hate him for what he isn’t, remember what the Bengals were before he came to your town.

Sincerely,

Mac Engel

Fort Worth, Texas

TCU class of ’98

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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