It was the only sliver of controversy in the Bengals Camp Calm and even then it didn’t raise much more than an eyebrow on the national Geiger counter this spring when Greg Cosell of NFL Films questioned quarterback Andy Dalton’s arm strength.
Cosell wasn’t trashing him, but after Dalton made a couple of perfect throws of 50 and 60 yards in the spring camps and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden offered several impassioned defenses, it died even before it started.
And on Friday, ESPN QB guru Ron Jaworski defended Dalton in his own way when he ranked him No. 19 in his survey of the NFL’s 29 veteran starting quarterbacks and Jets backup Tim Tebow, ranked last at No. 30.
Also in with his take on the Jaws rankings is Bengals radio play-by-play man Dan Hoard in his Bengals.com blog.
“The more I evaluated Dalton, the more I liked him,” Jaworski said in one of his three-minute segments. “He does have some arm strength limitations, but he compensates very well with his anticipation and his accuracy. That was particularly evident in the red zone. And that is an absolutely critical measure of a quarterback. The numbers were exceptional: 15 touchdowns, no interceptions. Dalton was very effective in the boot-action pass game. He did that well at TCU, and his ability to throw accurately on the run transitioned well to the NFL.”
Jaworski predicts Dalton is going to be near his top 10 after this season, citing his anticipation and accuracy, and one more year in Gruden’s system.
“Anticipation is an essential attribute to play at a high level. It is more important if you are not a power thrower,” he said. “Dalton was an outstanding anticipation passer. … What must supplement anticipation is pinpoint ball location. Dalton was consistently accurate in the short to intermediate areas. He put the ball right in his receiver’s hands. As my good friend quarterback coach Terry Shea says, he hits the strike point. Remember, it is the quarterback who is most responsible for run after catch.”
Jaworski also loved the way Dalton stood in the pocket: “Overall, Dalton threw with great touch. What also stood out was his willingness to look down the gun barrel, to deliver the football in the face of pressure. You have to do that in the NFL. You will get hit. You still have to make the throws. ”
Jaworski rated two quarterbacks drafted ahead of Dalton, Blaine Gabbert of Jacksonville, and Christian Ponder of Minnesota, No. 29 and 28, respectively.
He also put Dalton ahead of two former Bengals quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick (24) and Carson Palmer (21), as well as a pair of top 10 picks in the Jets’ Mark Sanchez (No. 23) and the Rams’ Sam Bradford (No. 20).
For what it’s worth, Dalton had a much better first full season as a starter than Jaws did, but he was also asked to do a lot more. In Jaworski’s fourth year in 1977, the Eagles went 5-9 in his 14 starts and he had 18 TDs and 21 interceptions for 6.3 yards per throw and a 60.4 passer rating on 116 completions of 346 throws.
Dalton went 9-7 with 20 TDs and 13 interceptions for 6.6 yards per throw and an 80.4 rating on 300 completions of 516 throws.
Jaws’s No. 1 pick is unveiled Tuesday, July 10 on SportsCenter, NFL Live (4 p.m. on ESPN) and NFL32 (6 p.m. on ESPN2).
Tags: Andy Dalton, ESPN, Ron Jaworski
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