Can McCarron push Dalton for Bengals' QB job?
Can AJ McCarron really push Andy Dalton to start in Cincinnati? There’s something to be said about the cliché of the backup quarterback always being the most popular person in town, and the combination of Dalton’s past postseason struggles and McCarron’s college success for a major program (Alabama) makes the Bengals’ QB job one vulnerable to a QB controversy.
However, even with McCarron’s impressive preseason performance against the Bears last week, it’s highly unlikely he is a better option as Cincinnati’s starting QB. If he does ever replace Dalton for reasons other than injury, it will have far more to do with Dalton’s perennial rollercoaster performance than it does McCarron’s consistently impressive tape demanding the job.
McCarron was excellent against the Bears when he came in, completing 12 of 17 passes (70.6 percent) for 149 yards and a score. He had a dropped pass in there, one hit as he threw and two passes thrown away, so if you look at just “aimed” passes, he was 12 of 14 (85.7 percent). That earned him a +3.1 passing grade and got people talking about his ability to push Dalton to start.
We only need to go back a week though to find him with a -2.0 overall grade for his performance against the Bucs. In that game he completed 11 of 15 attempts for 97 yards, but completed nothing thrown further than 10 yards down field, and only attempted two such passes. He was also charged for a sack in the game — meaning that one of the times he was sacked he was at fault for the pressure.
These have been McCarron’s first pro passes in real action, so we are dealing with tiny sample sizes, but there is little to suggest that the Bengals should be readying themselves for a switch at quarterback. If, on the other hand, the Bengals are just looking for a cheaper version of the DaltonCoaster ™, maybe they’ve found their man in McCarron.