Allow me to defend Dalton, then critique him

30 Sep

Defending Dalton
One thing that I’ve noticed when reading complaints about Dalton’s game is when people say — “He doesn’t go through his reads or gets locked onto one receiver.”
But I’m not sure how accurate that is, and I think it’s because of the design of this offense.
* The old ways in the NFL asked Quarterbacks to drop back, go through a progression system until the QB found an open receiver.
* Now, you see much more quick passing and taking what the defense gives you.
That’s the type of offense I believe we have in Cincinnati and I’ll explain.

After three years of studying this offense, players, and reading different offensive philosophies, I believe Andy Dalton is in a very simplistic offense designed to move the ball quickly IF he makes the correct reads in this order…

1) Pre-Snap Reads
Dalton comes to the line, looks at the defensive personnel, looks at their alignment/angles and depth and then decides weather to check to a run play or change the passing play.
* He’s looking at the safeties pre-snap to see what coverage they’re in.
* He’s looking for potential blitzing defenders.
* He looks to see if DBs are in off or press coverage.

2) Post-Snap Reads
Dalton takes the snap and then relocates the safeties. This will tell him if his pre-snap read was correct or if the defense rotated some players to confuse him.
* He (and his receivers) read the safeties again and determine what coverage he’s seeing.
* Based on the coverage he reads, Dalton now knows where he’s supposed to go with the football.
* He’ll set his feet and step up towards his targeted receiver.

3) Throw, Check Down or Run
As Dalton steps towards his targeted receiver and looks at him, he’s looking to see if his teammate is open or will be open.
* If the receiver will be open, Dalton will throw to a certain spot.
* If the receiver is covered or the coverage is different than expected, Dalton will either check down to a TE/RB in the flats…
* Or Dalton will try to run/scramble.

Now, I don’t think this applies to every passing play, but I think it applies to most of the Bengals offense.
So, when you see Andy Dalton drop back, look to his right and throw into coverage, it’s probably because he was fooled or didn’t read the coverage correctly.
If you see Dalton drop back and then freak out and get sacked, it’s probably because he didn’t get what he originally read in the defense and now doesn’t know where to go with the ball.

I believe he normally reads defenses very quickly and accurately. Yesterday wasn’t one of those days.

Now, allow me to criticize Dalton for not operating within the offense…

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Pre-snap read
* Cleveland has one Safety more than 15-yards deep (blue) and press coverage on both outside WRs.
* Browns are showing blitz with 7-defenders in the box
* So Dalton keeps his TE and RB in to block. 7 blocking 7.

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Post-Snap Read
* Dropping back, you see the deep safety align over Marvin Jones in man coverage and the other safety sprint in Green’s direction.
* The Browns bring all 7-defenders on a blitz. This ball needs to be thrown fairly quickly.

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Throw, Check down or Run
* Dalton sets and throws Green’s way without ever looking towards Sanu/Jones. Both targets are more open than Green, but whatever Dalton read told him to go Green’s way.

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* The ball falls incomplete after having little chance to Green to catch it.

I’m not here to say whatever he read in the defense wasn’t correct, but I did diagram this play last week and the Bengals ran it twice this past week. Three out of Four times, they threw it to Marvin Jones on the corner-route. Was he forcing it to Green here?

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* Pre-snap read suggests a Cover-1 with off-coverage on Eifert and Press on Green.

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* Cleveland brings the blitz again Post-snap.
* Eifert curls underneath the coverage and expects the ball.

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* Dalton throws the back shoulder to Green again with a Safety over top.
Incomplete pass.

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* Pre-snap read suggests Cover-2 and Man-Coverage underneath.

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*Post-snap read confirms the coverage.

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* Green runs a very crisp Out-route at the sticks (on third down) and gets good separation.
* The Ball needs to be thrown NOW.

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* Dalton sees man coverage and the middle of the field free and takes off.

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* He gains zero on third down. Do good QBs run or do they trust their arms on a sideline throw? You tell me, because I’m tired of being the bad guy.

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