(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.)
Name: Andy Dalton
Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 215
Experience: 5 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys:The Bengals will play at AT&T Stadium for the first time ever on Oct. 9, when Cincinnati comes to Arlington for a Week 5 matchup. The last time the Cowboys hosted the Bengals was in 2008, at the old Texas Stadium.
What's the Deal:Andy Dalton is one of the most criticized quarterbacks in the NFL – which is understandable, given that the Bengals have failed to win a playoff game despite five-straight postseason appearances. Of course, Dalton was sidelined with a thumb injury during Cincinnati's most recent playoff exit, though that won't silence critics. Meanwhile, Dalton put together arguably the best season of his career in 2015. He completed a career-high 66 percent of his passes for 3,250 yards and 25 touchdowns. Most importantly, he only threw seven interceptions after throwing at least 13 in every other season of his career. If he can continue that trend of good ball security, he'll be correcting one of the biggest criticisms of his game. In the meantime, the Bengals have yet to miss the playoffs during Dalton's time under center.
Expect This: Dalton is not afraid to air the ball out, boasting the NFL's second-best yards-per-attempt mark at 8.40. Those long balls will obviously benefit A.J. Green – widely considered one of the game's best receivers – not to mention Tyler Eifert, who broke out with 13 receiving touchdowns last year. Dalton lost two of his other top targets when Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left in free agency, but the Bengals signed Brandon LaFell and drafted Tyler Boyd to help offset those losses.
Previous Meetings: Dalton lost the only game he has ever played against the Cowboys -- the dramatic 20-19 nail-biter at the tail end of the 2012 season. He completed 20-of-33 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown with one interception on the day, but the Bengals struggled to find the end zone. Cincinnati settled for three field goals from inside the Dallas 20-yard line. Tony Romo and the Cowboys outscored the Bengals, 10-3, in the second half, with the game-winning field goal coming in the final seconds.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Plays underneath center. Will stand tall in the pocket. Not afraid to take a hit to allow his receivers to break open. Can deliver the ball under pressure. Shows poise in the pocket.
- Puts the ball where it needs to be on the slant. Accurate inside the numbers. Can hit receivers on the move. Will lead the backs in the field.
- Can put touch on the ball down the field. Can make throws moving to his left. Can make the back shoulder throw. Nifty ball handler. Will slide forward in the pocket to buy time. Keeps his head up and eyes down the field.
- Outstanding football intelligence. Will use the hard count to draw defense offside.
- Doesn't have the best arm talent. There are snaps where it takes time for the ball to get to the outside, but he has nice accuracy. Throws the ball well on the move.
- Aware what is happening around him. Can anticipate routes coming open. Nice timing and vision. Offense moves with him at the controls. Makes the right decisions.
- Took plenty of hits in the games I studied and only lost the ball one time in the pocket. Shows the strength to hang in there. Can shake tacklers off in the pocket. Shows the ability to escape.
- Made several clutch throws in the Seattle game to led his team to the victory. Has yet to get over the playoff hump as a starter which has been his only real downfall.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.