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Cincinnati Bengals: What is Next With Dalton on IR?

The Cincinnati Bengals started out their season hot. Their first five games, they boasted a record 4-1 and led the AFC North division. Two losses in a row didn’t discourage the Bengals, especially since one of those losses came from a top NFL team- Kansas City Chiefs. A win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers then a bye gave fans and the team a boost and helped them get back on track.

Now at Week 12, the Bengals have lost three in a row and fallen to 5-6 and third in the division. In their loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Dalton was injured in the third quarter. This happened after a snap by center Billy Price sailed over his head. Dalton ran back to recover the ball, but the Browns recovered it. The franchise quarterback immediately went to the sideline and into the locker room with athletic trainers. He did not return after that.

Initially, the injury did not seem that serious and although he was ruled out for the rest of the game, the team and head coach Marvin Lewis did not believe that his season was over.

On Monday afternoon, Dalton was placed on injured reserve after finding out that his thumb was in fact broken and he is unable to play.

Andy Dalton’s Career

Dalton was drafted in 2011 by the Cincinnati Bengals. He didn’t miss a game until 2015 where he was sidelined for three games. Since then Dalton hasn’t missed any more games. He has an overall completion percentage of 62.3 and this season he reached the mile marker of 28,000 career passing yards. He has racked up 188 touchdowns and since 2011, he has completed 350 plays of 20 or more yards.

Dalton took the Bengals to the playoffs five years straight but has never made it past the wild-card weekend. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2015. In every playoff game he has had at least one touchdown pass or more.

Cincinnati’s season has been up and down since the beginning. The loss of Dalton is a big blow to the playoff hopes of the Bengals. Their banged-up defense and the absence of top wide receiver A.J. Green has had a huge impact on the team.

Cincinnati’s Backup

The Bengals backup isn’t a household name. Yet when Dalton exited the game, Jeff Driskel threw for 17 of 29 for 155 yards and a touchdown. The San Fransisco 49ers drafted Driskel in the sixth round of the 2016 draft.

The Bengals picked up Tom Savage off of waivers Monday afternoon to back up Driskel. The fans and the rest of the team will need to rely on number 6 to keep this team going and their playoff hopes and dreams alive.

Where to go From Here?

The return of Green is highly anticipated but every week his return gets pushed back. Driskel will amp up the run game giving Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard way more touches. The offensive line will need to step up their game. With a backup quarterback in, his ability to avoid sacks is way less than Dalton’s. The line needs to protect Driskel and create holes for the running backs.

The game in the hands of Dirskel since Cincinnati’s defense is ranked dead last. The sixth-round pick showed some promise on his 27-yard touchdown run last week against the Browns. If he can bring that promise and show skill the rest of the season, the Bengals could have a chance. They are a few games back in the playoff race and will need to give it their all if they expect to have a chance of making it into the open AFC wild-card spot.

 

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