Wild Card Weekend: 49ers 23, Packers 20 | Chargers 27, Bengals 10 | Scores
We're in Day 2 of what will be an impossibly long offseason for the Bengals. On Sunday, they were thoroughly outplayed at home by the Chargers, and -- fair or not -- much of the blame rests with third-year quarterback Andy Dalton.
He threw two inexplicable interceptions, added another inexplicable fumble, further cementing the perception that he's the guy who doesn't show up in big moments.
Now 0-3 in the playoffs, Dalton didn't try to paint a rosy picture; he fully understands fans' frustrations.
“Unfortunately, the last three years, we haven't been able to win one of these playoff games," Dalton said Sunday, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Obviously, there is going to be a lot of criticism and talk, but until you win and prove people wrong, people can say whatever they want.”
And what many people are saying is that Dalton isn't a franchise quarterback. He's too inconsistent, too flaky, and doesn't come across as much of a leader. Inside the locker room, however, Dalton still has the support of his coaches and teammates.
"I don't have any questions about Andy's role in this thing," coach Marvin Lewis said. "We just have to keep working it. We've got to make sure we're doing everything to help Andy all the time. He's going to be very disappointed in himself today, obviously. He is the football team, and I'm sure he's very disappointed.”
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, whom many fans blame for the predictable playcalling, added: “I'm very proud of him, he works hards, comes to meetings every day, prepares, practices hard. He's a great leader. Just didn't work out for him today. Didn't have his best game today. ... It's unfortunate he is going to take the bulk of the criticism, but we appreciate what he stands for and who he is and what type of player he is and he is going to be a good one for a long time.”
And wide receiver A.J. Green, one of the best players in the league, wasn't going to let Dalton take all the blame.
“Man, it's just not him," Green said. "I could have made that play down the sidelines for him. It just happens. We're still young (and) still got a lot of football left to play. We thought we had the team to take it all the way. That's the biggest thing, man. These last two years, we were coming in feeling we were hoping to win; this game, we went in knowing we could have come out with a ‘W' and that's the most frustrating thing: Knowing you had the game plan already and if you had just executed it, you know you would have come out with that W, but we didn't.”
Green's right -- the finger-pointing extends beyond Dalton. But the quarterback also had a lot to do with the outcome. Put another way: Do you think the Bengals would have won with Philip Rivers under center?
And that's the point.