From the Press Box: Another Dalton Implosion, Hoyer Illusions and the Return of Peterson

Garda is back again with more general NFL discussion. Today he tackles the aftermath of the Massacre in Cincinnati, why it's dangerous to be "all in" on Hoyer, and what should be done with Adrian Peterson now that his court case is settled.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton by Andrew Weber—USA TODAY Sports.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton by Andrew Weber—USA TODAY Sports.

Another week of NFL action and another dud of a Thursday night game.

It’s interesting, though. The game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals actually went a long way towards solidifying some things I was think about with both teams.

The Bengals have never impressed me enough to feel confident that they are a power in the AFC. Sure, they play well at times, but they also play down to the level of their opponent at other times and go flat at off moments.

Losing Jay Gruden hasn’t been awful—sure Hue Jackson isn’t really knocking my socks off, but Gruden never did either—but losing defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to Minnesota has been as big a blow as I expected it to be.

The Bengals defense is ranked No. 30 overall, No. 19 versus the run and No. 30 against the pass. Injuries always play a part, but good coaching often can counter that, or at least it has in the past when Zimmer was there.

So this defense is struggling, something we suspected could happen when Zimmer left.

We also saw yet another Andy Dalton implosion only this time it wasn’t during the playoffs.

There is no way to sweeten this: that was one of the worst displays by a highly paid franchise quarterback I’ve ever seen. You might have expected it if Dalton was a backup or rookie thrust into the limelight without reps with the first team.

This isn’t Dalton’s first rodeo, though. It’s year four and while everyone has a poor game at times, Dalton tends to wilt under the bright lights of big games and primetime games far too frequently.

And yet they paid him a lot of money to get them to the playoffs and, I don’t know, win a game. He is who he is, though—a guy who is wildly inconsistent game to game and makes some savagely bad throws.

Here’s one thing I didn’t know going into last night, though—you can actually get A.J. Green to a point where he just doesn’t care anymore. You could see Green check out somewhere in the third quarter but he might have been playing mental golf before that. Since Dalton couldn’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn (unless that barn was wearing a Cleveland jersey), so it wouldn’t shock me if he checked out really early.

On the Cleveland side, we can see how much talent that team has, particularly on defense. It’s not so much the stats, which aren’t impressive. The team is 20th overall in defense, No. 28 against the run and No. 13 against the pass, none of which looks good on the surface.

The Browns don’t let you score, though, and allow just 19.1 points a game, the fourth lowest total in the NFL. Bend but don’t break is the motto and so far it has served them well.

It’s also disguised and distracted from the overall mediocre play of Brian Hoyer. Not everyone seems to want to hear it, but I’ve seen little I’d call impressive from Hoyer, who does just enough to keep you in games an few enough mistakes not to cost you them.

It seems like people walked away from this game signing his praises, but having watched it again Friday morning, I wasn’t impressed with his efforts. His receivers were wide open and yet he continued to make bad throws. He had two excellent tosses, both in the third quarter, but aside from that was lucky to escape without a pick.

Yet some feel like this was a breakout game for him. Personally, I have no idea what they are seeing. I saw some decent throws, some wide open receivers and some very lucky near-misses.

Who has he played the best against? Tomato cans like Tampa Bay, Oakland, Jacksonville and Tennessee. He had one good drive against New Orleans (a key one) and was fine against Pittsburgh an Baltimore. He was a hot mess against Jacksonville.

With the schedule ahead and the fact that Hoyer generally makes few mistakes, Cleveland should make the playoffs and, if you’re like some, you’ll look at the win-loss record and declare Hoyer the reason. Just like some bought into Derek Anderson in 2007 when they went 10-6 (hat tip to Dennis Glade for that reminder).

It puts Cleveland into an awkward position going into the offseason. Maybe Hoyer is the guy. Maybe he’ll continue to develop and become their franchise quarterback.

On the other hand, we’ve danced to this tune before and it usually ends with somebody’s feet stepped on.

 

Adrian Peterson

I wrote about this earlier this week at Sports on Earth, so I will be a bit more concise here.

I don’t think Peterson should walk back into the Vikings locker room like nothing has happened. He hasn’t been suspended yet, he got paid for his time on the exempt list and the Domestic Violence policy gives you a six game ban for what he did.

The Vikings and NFL should ban him for six games.

I have no faith that they will, though. After all, how many times did it take to get this right the first time? Or to get the Ray Rice thing correct?

The Vikings are in the playoff race, barely, but they have a pulse. And while I like what Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata have done this season, you can’t argue Peterson isn’t better by a wide margin.

From a non-football point ... well, I think what he did is reprehensible and I find it hard to go with the “he’s really sorry” narrative spun out the last week or so. Peterson saw nothing wrong with what he did. Feeling bad now seems like foxhole religion—of course he realized the error of his ways. He has to. It’s clear everyone else sees it as wrong so, if he’s going to play, he has to as well.

I have immense respect for what Peterson does on the field, but that won’t get me to overlook the fact that what he did was reprehensible and he should be punished by the league, according to its own rules.

Once that happens, he can step back onto the field. Meanwhile, he will have a long road to go to build trust up with many NFL fans. And he should. We’re all for redemption stories and second chances in America.

You just have to earn them.

I guess I couldn’t be concise, huh?

Have a good weekend.

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Lphill's picture

November 08, 2014 at 12:32 am

Petersen got off with a slap on the wrist , if it were the average Joe it would have been jail time for sure, other than Vikings fans I dont see how anyone can root for this guy to play football again this year, this was clear child abuse very different from the Ray Rice case, I dont know how anyone can look at this guy and forget what he did.

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