Jaws And ESPN Crew Heap Praise On Red Rifle

On Friday, ESPN’s Ron “Jaws” Jaworski ranked Andy Dalton at #19 on his daily countdown of the Top 30 veteran quarterbacks in the NFL.  Dalton was one spot ahead of Sam Bradford, and two spots above Carson Palmer.

Perhaps more importantly, Jaworski made it clear that Dalton is likely to climb as he gains experience.

“As I look ahead to the 2012 season, I expect Dalton to improve,” Jaworski said. “The pass game concepts of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden mesh perfectly with Dalton’s skill set. I would not be surprised if a year from now Dalton is approaching my Top 10. He has a chance to make that kind of jump in one season.”

The former Eagles quarterback reviewed extensive game film in analyzing Dalton’s strengths and weaknesses.

“The more I evaluated Dalton, the more I liked him,” Jaworski said. “He does have some arm strength limitations, but he compensates very well with his anticipation and his accuracy. That was particularly evident in the red zone – and that is an absolutely critical measure of a quarterback. The numbers were exceptional: 15 touchdowns, no interceptions.

“Anticipation is an essential attribute to play at a high level.  It’s more important if you are not a power thrower.  Dalton was an outstanding anticipation passer.”

Jaws also praised Dalton’s toughness.

“What stood out was his willingness to look down the gun barrel – to deliver the football in the face of pressure,” said Jaworski.  “You have to do that in the NFL. You will get hit. You still have to make the throws.”

After airing Jaworski’s Top 30 Countdown segment on ESPN’s NFL Live on Friday, studio analysts Tim Hasselbeck and Marcellus Wiley added their thoughts on the Bengals 24-year-old quarterback.

“I think he has the potential to be good enough to help the Bengals win a Super Bowl,” said Hasselbeck.  “One thing that Jaws did not bring up was the leadership aspect of Andy Dalton.  I think that he’s more than capable in that realm.  You combine that with the offense that’s being run in Cincinnati – a west coast offense that’s predicated on a lot of run after the catch – the quarterback doesn’t have to be the creator, he has to be the distributor and Andy Dalton is exactly that.  That’s why I think that they’ve found their man.  That’s the good news for the Bengals.  Now it’s just about making him better.  Right now he looks very promising and the Bengals should feel very good about where he can lead them.”

“This sounds like déjà vu for me, because in 2001, I was a San Diego Charger when we drafted Drew Brees in the second round,” said Wiley.  “He came in with the same attributes – he was accurate, he had great anticipation, but he had some arm strength limitations.  It sounds the same when you hear about Andy Dalton.  But when you watch the film, he reminds me of Drew Brees except that he’s already accelerated the learning curve because he had a better rookie season than I saw out of Drew Brees.  If you look at Drew Brees now – where can Andy Dalton go and what can he become as a quarterback?  I think this is a Super Bowl-bound quarterback one day.  He can lead them to the promised land.”

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