Cincinnati Bengals NFL Draft Watch: With Jay Gruden’s Departure, Will Andy Dalton Be Replaced?

Updated: January 10, 2014

When offensive coordinator Jay Gruden came into the NFL, it was very much in the shadow of his more-accomplished older brother, Jon. While difficult to establish your own identity when your sibling is an ESPN analyst and Super Bowl champion, Jay took to the NFL like he had been doing it for years. After a messy situation with former quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted a new young signal-caller, Andy Dalton, and Gruden’s coaching was quickly put to task.

A second-round pick out of TCU, Dalton came out of the draft heralded for his leadership, his accuracy and quick release. As the heir to the throne, following Palmer’s absense to the team, Dalton came out of the gate swinging. In three straight seasons, the coach and quarterback duo have helped lead the Bengals offense to the playoffs, although each playoff season ended in a one-and-done situation.

Gruden’s performance, however, was enough to grab the attention of Redskins owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen, and he was named the head coach of the Washington Redskins. For Dalton though, his fate might not be so optimistic.

Each season, the Bengals 26-year old passer has been maddeningly inconsistent, with this past 2013 season perhaps becoming too much to take. In October, Dalton had a three game stretch that earned him the October Player of the Month in which he went 69-for-104 for 1,034 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Many had expected that Dalton had finally taken the next step towards being a legitimate and viable NFL franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, it did not take long before they had their answer, as he went 69-for-131 for 705 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was also sacked 10 times and lost a fumble.

The rest of Dalton’s season saw him flipping back and forth from good to bad performance, before ultimately laying an egg in a disappointing 27-10 playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers. To make matters worse, Dalton may have lost his biggest ally, as it was revealed that Gruden was behind his drafting from the start. Prior to losing last Sunday, owner Mike Brown indicated to the Cincinnati Inquirer that his choice at QB during the 2011 NFL Draft was actually Colin Kaepernick, not Dalton.

While it isn’t to say that Brown hasn’t come around and embraced Dalton, his timing was not exactly the most opportune one to offer up the information. With Gruden now in Washington, and a new coordinator in Hue Jackson, one has to wonder if the Bengals will be pursuing a quarterback to come into camp and compete.

With the Bengals depth as deep as it is, they could certainly take a chance on a quarterback in the middle rounds. With players like Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Georgia’s Aaron Murray scheduled to come off the board in rounds two and three, it should come as no surprise if Dalton’s starting days are numbered.

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