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Should A.J. McCarron start over Andy Dalton? This question has been asked by Bengals fans ever since A.J. got to Cincinnati. Today, let’s compare the two QBs and the arguments used against each to draw a conclusion on the best option for the Bengals in the future. So let us look at a few of these arguments…

A.J. was a winner in college
This is one of the stupider arguments. A.J. as a three-year starter for Alabama was 36-4; Dalton, on the other hand, as a four-year starter at TCU, was 42-8, including a 34-3 mark over his last three years.

When you consider the relative success of the TCU and Alabama programs, Dalton did more with less and between the two, Dalton is the only one to lead his team to an undefeated season, as the Horned Frogs won the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin and ended up ranked second in the nation for 2010. This argument is trotted out for almost every QB bust the NFL has ever seen. Let’s face it: Most NFL QBs were winners in high school and college.

Dalton can’t read a defense
I have heard numerous Bengals fans say this, and it is simply untrue! You don’t lead a team to the playoffs five times in your first six years if you cannot read a defense — it simply can’t happen. The problem is the fans that use this as a argument have no clue how to read an NFL defense, so how the hell do they know who can and can’t read a defense?

A.J. proved in 2015 that he should be the starter
No, he didn’t! If A.J. MCarren proved anything in 2015, he proved he didn’t belong as a starter. I will not hold the game against Pittsburgh against him, so let’s just look at his starts.

His first start against the San Francisco 49ers was terrible, as the game was won by the Bengals defense whilethe offense just tried to avoid making mistakes. A.J. was 15 of 21 for 190 yards and one TD, but Cincinnati’s scores were set up by short fields. The Bengals had a 21-0 lead at halftime and did mostly nothing the rest of the game.

McCarron was awesome in the first half of this game; the problem came in the second half when the Bengals could only muster three points, only for A.J. to screw up a snap in overtime that led to the Bengals losing a first-round playoff bye.

His final start of the regular season was a home game against the Baltimore Ravens, when once again the Bengals struggled to beat the struggling Ravens. The Bengals actually trailed 9-7 as A.J. played poorly in the first half. The second half he did play better as the Bengals won by a TD and McCarron threw for 160 yards during this game.

McCarron’s final start was in the playoffs, when he had trouble reading the Steelers’ coverages and in the first three quarters the Bengals offense did nothing. McCarron threw a late TD, but before that play he fumbled on a strip-sack and threw a terrible interception. For the game, McCarron completed 21 of 43 passes for one TD and turned the ball over twice.

Overall, I feel that the Denver game is a win if Dalton plays and the Bengals don’t even have to play in the wild-card round. I feel that the odds are very great that, if the Bengals have Dalton in the playoff game, there is no way they get shut out for the first three quarters. Remember that earlier in the year Dalton had led the Bengals on a game-winning TD drive to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Dalton can’t get it done in the playoffs
He hasn’t so far, but has he had a team that was good enough to: In Dalton’s first two attempts in the playoffs, the Bengals were not that good. The 2013 loss to the San Diego Chargers at home must fall at his feet, but the following year, injuries decimated the Bengals so bad that Rex Burkhead was playing tight end! In all reality, 2015 was Dalton’s season to get that win and maybe more. He was a contender for NFL MVP and had the Bengals sitting at 10-2 when he got hurt.

Conclusion
In the end, not many in the know in the NFL think McCarron is a franchise QB. If they did, somebody would have traded for him: Isn’t a first round pick worth a franchise QB?

In the first three years of his career, Dalton had a history of bad interceptions. Over the last two years, those are few and far between. The biggest question here, though, would be “What makes anybody think in his first year as a starter that he can develop into how good Dalton is right now?” The answer to that is simple: He can’t!

Someday, A.J. McCarron may be a starter somewhere, but it will not be in Cincinnati…

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