Dalton’s Whiny MNF Tirade & Why The Bengals Are Their Own Worst Enemy
Andy Dalton and the Bengals have had their identity over the last few seasons tied to one ominous, grotesque word that no football player wants to hear...
That reputation was far from dispelled on Monday night when Cincinnati delivered yet another stinker in primetime; a 10-6 loss to the truly horrid Houston Texans who were 3-5 heading into the Monday Night Football game. Their was so much to criticize about their performance that I'm surprised the reporters at the conferences and in the locker room even knew where to begin.
Of course sitting at a very comfortable 8-1 and knowing that it's important to take losses like that in stride and look at the bigger picture, I'm sure that Dalton kept his ego in check and was able to say the right thing to be a leader for his team, right?
But what could have possibly happened to make Dalton lose his cool in a situation that was already embarassing and disappointing enough?
This typical attempt at humor by JJ Watt is as innocuous as any postgame shit-talking could be. Honestly, it's a stretch to even call that shit-talking. I can't believe anyone would even think it worth bringing up to Dalton in the first place. And yet they did, and this was his reaction.
Yes, that is Dalton - after a horrendous loss in which he and his team failed tremendously to do what they needed to do to win a home game against an inferior team - whining and crying about Watt making a cheesy joke derived from A Christmas Story reference. Don't worry, there's more.
“I’m disappointed in him" Dalton went on to say. "The integrity of this game – I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a really good player. There’s a lot of kids and a lot of people who look up to him. For him to make comments like that, he’s showing that’s acceptable to do that kind of stuff, to say that kind of stuff. It’s disappointing for one of the best players in this league to come out and say something like that. That’s all I’m going to say about that. I think JJ is a good player, but for him to be one of the best in this league and to show that integrity, and to show that type of…it shows what he’s about, which is disappointing.”
Ew. I feel gross after watching that. I'm one of those people that can't stand watching people in embarrassing situations, and this was certainly one those times. How is anyone supposed to take you seriously when you can't keep your cool over something so trivial and unrelated to your job?
Dalton's reaction to Watt's joke only serves to highlight just how insecure and unfocused he is on the things that truly matter. It is so incredibly difficult to be 8-1 at any point in time in the NFL; and yet it's very easy for things to go downhill quickly. It takes more than just physical talent to make it through the 17 weeks of the NFL regular season and be ready to go for the playoffs.
Dalton's overreaction is just a reminder that the Bengals are who they have been for a very long time now: a good regular season team that crumbles under real pressure.
Despite making it to the playoffs in each of the last four seasons - scrapping their way through what was the toughest division in the AFC during that stretch of time - the Bengals still haven't won a postseason game since Jan. 6, 1991. They haven't even come close.
In the four postseason games that they have played in since 2011, the Bengals have been outscored 103-43 and allowed a combined 653 rushing yards. Dalton has thrown one touchdown to his six interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 70.3% of their passes and have been intercepted just once and sacked only three times. Andy Dalton has been sacked 12 times.
The Bengals don't run into bad luck in the postseason. They don't lose so many players to injury that they can't bounce back. They don't come out of a historically weak division that is incapable of exposing their weaknesses. The Bengals fall apart at the seams in every single aspect of their game because they are a mentally weak organization with a coach in Marvin Lewis that has been unwilling and unable to make the adjustments that are necessary to go from good to great.
Bengals fans are probably the saddest fans in the NFL purely because they have a team that's good enough that the front office has a reason to keep Lewis around; but with Lewis they are incapable of ever becoming any better than they are right now. They have reached the Marvin Lewis ceiling. There is nowhere to go but back down, and they will bounce up and down between that floor and ceiling like a ping pong ball until owner Mike Brown and his ilk decide to actually give a flying shit about delivering more to their fans than winning seasons that go up in flames as soon as the team gets on national television.
The Bengals won't change their approach until someone in that organization decides that beating the Steelers and making it to the playoffs isn't a big enough pay off - for the fans that deserve a lot better, and a talented team that is capable of far more.
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