Earlier this week it was announced that Andy Dalton was joining the Chicago Bears on a one-year deal. This news was met with reactions ranging from disappointment to outright ridicule from a fanbase hell-bent on signing Russell Wilson.
These reactions are completely understandable given the decades of mediocrity that have come from the Bears’ quarterbacking. Jay Cutler is widely regarded as the best Bears’ quarterback of the past half-century. In the same breath, he is also considered one of the league’s all-time underachievers.
Anything less than a swing-for-the-fences move would be a failure by the Bear’s front office. Enter reigning Cowboy’s back-up Andy Dalton (to a chorus of jeers).
With that said, if you can examine the Dalton signing from an unbiased, unemotional perspective, you may just be able to spot the bright side to this deal.
Let us take a look at Andy Dalton’s performance in relief of Dak Prescott last year. Dalton took a short-staffed Cowboy’s team with one of the league’s worst defenses to a 4-5 record as a starter. Technically, if you credit Dalton for his role in the Cowboy’s week five win over the Giants in which Prescott went down, Dalton was a .500 starter for a bad team. He kept the Cowboys in the playoff hunt in weak NFC East until the very end. He made the most out of what Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys gave him.
Looking at Dalton’s career as a whole, it should not be understated that he has a winning record as a starter at 74-66-2. He accomplished this while spending nine of his ten seasons on one of the worst franchises in sports in the Cincinnati Bengals. Dalton had five consecutive winning seasons, including four with double-digit win totals. He made three Pro Bowl appearances over this span.
Dalton took the Bengals to the playoffs five straight seasons from 2011 to 2015. This for a team that has only made the playoffs 14 times in their entire franchise history since 1968.
Dalton was also able to help AJ Green become a superstar and keep his star receiver relatively content in their years together. Green made seven Pro Bowls while catching passes from Dalton in Cincinnati. He also had six 1,000 yard receiving seasons over that span. Injuries were the only factor that prevented Green from totaling eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with Dalton as his quarterback.
This could be a good omen for the Bears and their disgruntled star receiver Allen Robinson. If Dalton can get him the ball, and help the Bears rack up some wins, he could help turn the relationship between franchise and receiver in the right direction.
The Bears are also being reported to be players in the Kenny Golliday sweepstakes. If Dalton has two superstar receivers to throw to, there is no reason he should not recapture his prime and become a playoff-caliber quarterback once again.
Dalton is not a “sexy” signing. However, he can win games and lead a team to success. He is a far more reliable option to Nick Foles and should be considered an upgrade.
The bigger concern for Chicago should be on the defensive side of the ball. In 2018 they had a top-three defense under Vic Fangio. With Chuck Pagano taking over in 2019, they have seen their defense fall to the middle of the pack since. They have now parted ways with Kyle Fuller this offseason and have granted Akiem Hicks the right to seek a trade.
If the Bears watch their defense fall deeper down the rankings next year, and fail to upgrade their offensive line (particularly at the tackle position), it may not truly matter who they have under center, after all. That will not be Andy Dalton’s fault.
More to come from Chicago.