Just How Bad Was Andy Dalton's Thursday Night Football Performance?
A little over a year ago, I wrote a column breaking down one of the worst quarterback performances I've ever seen in my life. It was Josh Freeman's debut with the Vikings, and it was like watching a drunk uncle try and figure out how his Nintendo Wii works.
I'm having a little déjà vu, because I think I just witnessed an even worse quarterback display. This time, it came from Andy Dalton.
The Bengals were supposed to win last night. They were supposed to beat the Browns, feel good about their first-place AFC North standing, and look forward to Week 11.
But everything collapsed for Cincinnati. The rush defense lived up to their worst-in-the-league status, the pass defense couldn't stop a struggling Brian Hoyer, and the offensive play-calling was something you typically see out of a game of Madden.
Andy Dalton, though, is going to take a lot of blame for Cincinnati's loss. And deservedly so - his play last night was historically bad. Let's look at why.
What Just Happened?
Entering Week 10, Andy Dalton ranked 17th in the NFL with a 26.01 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) total. If you're new to the site, NEP is a measure of the amount of points a particular player adds for his team above or below expectation. Because throwing the ball is more effective than running it, quarterbacks and wide receivers tend to have a plus - above zero - NEP score. When you hit the negatives, you know you're in trouble. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.
For some comparison, Dalton's Passing NEP entering the week was about six points higher than Eli Manning's, and six points lower than Colin Kaepernick's. In total - and this probably has to do with AJ Green missing time - Andy Dalton's been a very average quarterback in 2014.
He wasn't even close to average last night.
If you recall - and I wouldn't expect you to because it was written over a year ago - Josh Freeman's debut with the Vikings resulted in a Passing NEP total of -20.16. For reference, in 2014, only three quarterbacks have reached that low of a score in total through their first eight or nine games.
Andy Dalton's Passing NEP against the Browns last night? -21.31.
Dalton's game from an advanced metrics standpoint was worse than Josh Freeman's from a season ago. And Dalton was playing against the 22nd-ranked secondary, per our metrics. Freeman faced a Giants team that ranked sixth against the pass last year.
Andy Dalton just signed a six-year, $115 million deal.
But it's not just the advanced analytics that hated Dalton's performance. He became just the seventh quarterback since 1996 to have thrown at least 30 passes with 10 or fewer completions. Among those seven quarterbacks, Dalton's the only one to have thrown three or more interceptions. He also became the 15th quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 30 passes and not hit the 90-yard mark.
Oh, there's more. There have been 12 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 30 passes to reach a Passer Rating less than 5. Andy Dalton is one of them. In fact, Dalton's 2.0 Passer Rating last night was the fifth-worst we've ever seen from a quarterback with at least 30 pass attempts, per ProFootballReference.com. Even if you drop the volume filter to 25, Dalton's day ranks 11th-worst in terms of Passer Rating.
It was brutal. It was ugly. And the worst part about it for the Bengals is that Dalton's not the only reason the team lost on Thursday night.
It's going to be a long 10 days for Cincinnati.