Coley Harvey | ESPN.com
Dalton’s interceptions are up, his completion percentage is down and his Total QBR is virtually subterranean.
As rough as Dalton has looked recently, though, he contends he doesn’t have a confidence issue. In his eyes, he’s playing at his highest level as a pro.
“I’m confident as ever,” Dalton said Tuesday. “You have to have confidence. For us, as a team, we feel like we’re in control of everything and that’s where we want to be at this point.”
The Bengals (7-4) lead the AFC North by 2½ games and look like a club that could earn postseason home-field advantage if they continue to have games like Sunday, when they rallied from a 13-point deficit by scoring 31 consecutive points in a 41-20 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Cincinnati is off this week, taking its bye ahead of a trip to San Diego in Week 13.
While Dalton had three touchdown passes against the Browns, it was the defense that flipped the momentum with a timely interception and a series of early red-zone stands.
Despite the win, Dalton’s 93 passing yards, his 48.1 percent completion rating, 62.7 passer rating and career-low 3.7 QBR rating still left many fans upset with his play.
In the weeks since his five touchdown passes led the Bengals to a 49-9 win over the New York Jets, Dalton’s stats have plummeted. He’s thrown at least one interception in four straight games, including eight in his last three. His sub-50 percent completion rating Sunday marked the first time he’s converted fewer than half of his passes in back-to-back games. Dalton’s QBR, which hit the 90s against the Detroit Lions and Jets last month, has dipped below 20.0 in each of the three games since.
“We’ve done some good things and we’ve struggled in some areas,” Dalton said, evaluating his offense through 11 games. “For us, the biggest thing is consistency. We’ve got to find ways to keep scoring points and to give ourselves a chance to win games.”
How would Dalton evaluate his play so far?
“I’m a lot better than I was the last two years,” Dalton said. “There’s some things that I’ve done this year that I didn’t do the last couple of years. For me, I’ve got to keep improving and keep trying to get better.”
Dalton said he’s been making various throws that he had focused on in the offseason.
“Some of the stuff that I’ve been doing are things that I wanted to work on and things that I wanted to improve on,” Dalton said. “We’re in a good spot right now.”
Ask Bengals fans if they feel the same, and many may disagree. Before Sunday’s game, a group of fans in the upper deck of the east side of Paul Brown Stadium stands unfurled a banner that read: “Will the real Andy please step up?” It was clear they were bemoaning the type of play that has shown up the last three weeks.
While Dalton may feel like he’s playing at a high level, he’s not naive enough to believe that the offense hasn’t had problems lately. The play of opposing defenses has made life difficult for the Bengals, he said.
“We’ve played some good teams and played some good defenses,” Dalton said. “That’s what it comes down to.
“The biggest thing for us is that we’ve got to find ways to win and it doesn’t matter how we win, as long as we’re winning. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
- Previously covered Florida State for Orlando Sentinel and Georgia Tech for Macon Telegraph
- Northwestern University graduate