Alabama in the Pros

The Time is Now for A.J. McCarron in Cincinnati

© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens’ defense is unarguably one of the best units in the National Football League, but that is no excuse for the poor play of Cincinnati Bengals’ veteran quarterback, Andy Dalton. The seventh-year veteran completed just over 50% of his throws for 170 yards, no scores, and a jaw-dropping four interceptions. His Bengals were shut out 20-0 after one of the worst quarterback performances in league history.

His total quarterback rating was a 0.6, good enough for third-worst of all time. This puts him on a list with the likes of John Dorsey, John Skelton, and the 2015 skeleton of Peyton Manning. Most notably, however, is that Dalton was not under extreme pressure during ANY of his four interceptions. Even former Alabama star, C.J. Mosley, got in on the fun:

The game was ugly, to say the least. Bengals fans have long had the jury out on the TCU product as he has yet to lead them to a playoff victory in his tenure despite having one of the league’s best receivers in A.J. Green and a healthy abundance of talent at running back. In the four playoff games he has played in he has an average QB rating of 57.8, has thrown one touchdown pass, and six interceptions. This most recent lackluster preformance could ultimately become the final nail in the coffin as far as the fans are concerned:

 

At this point, if head coach Marvin Lewis wants to somehow continue to keep his job (again), he might need to make some changes. The last thing he needs is to have the fans booing Dalton each time he steps onto the field. The question is, where do you turn next?

To the one guy that (nearly) won you a playoff game for the first time in over two decades – A.J. McCarron. Back in 2015, when Dalton went down towards the end of the year, McCarron was thrust into postseason action after just three regular season starts. And boy did he nearly end the drought. Were it not for a fumble and a multitude of dumb penalties by their defense, McCarron’s 25-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green in the fourth quarter would have capped off a come-from-behind, drought-ending playoff win.

For the Bengals, they’ve just had to move on from what could have been. But now, it is time to look at what still can be. McCarron was not perfect, but for a guy with so little playing experience he was rather impressive. In that 2015 season he completed 66.4% of his passes, threw for 854 yards, six touchdowns, and only two interceptions.

Another reason they should give him a serious look is his highly-touted college resume. During his four-year playing career at Alabama, he won two national championships as the Tide’s starting quarterback. He threw for 9,019 yards and 77 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions. He broke multiple school records and left as one of the SEC’s greatest quarterbacks.

A.J. McCarron is a winner, through and through. And that is exactly what Marvin Lewis and his Bengals need right now – a winner. Every year it feels as though Cincinnati runs into the same issues, and every year they do nothing to change. This has to be the year of change for ‘Who Dey’ nation. If not, Lewis will find his way off of the sidelines very soon. And all of the Bengals’ efforts over the past decade will have been for nothing.

The time is now.

Jake Weaver is a lead writer for TD Alabama Magazine and Bama Hoops Hype. You can contact him via phone at 205-612-5060, or on Twitter @JWeaverFootball

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