The third-year Bengals quarterback has lifted his team into the playoffs each season of his career, just to lose in each Wild Card game. However, the team and coach Marvin Lewis are still supporting the Texas native after Sunday's 27-10 defeat at home against the San Diego Chargers, per the Bengals website.
"He’s won big games for us and he’ll continue to win big games. We ask a lot out of him, there’s no doubt about it. He just finished his third season of doing it. I believe in his abilities, I believe in his makeup, I believe in his maturity and I believe in his ability to let the last play go and move on to the next play. That’s probably one of his best attributes along with his abilities," Lewis said.
"He had another very good season. He’s progressed well. We need to continue to do things to make his job just easier and easier to do, and make sure to continue to be repetitive with what we do for him, and continue to let the players around him continue to get better, and they continue to get better and that’s all we have to work at."
Dalton has gotten better each of his three seasons, this year setting franchise records for passing yards (4,296) and touchdowns (33) for a campaign. The problem remains the postseason, where Dalton has shown no improvement. Back in his playoff debut against the Houston Texans in 2011, Dalton went 27-for-42 for 257 yards, but threw three interceptions.
In 2012, Dalton again met Houston and lost, tossing another interception and only completing 14 of 30 attempts for 127 yards. Finally, this past Sunday saw another trio of turnovers including two atrocious throws in the second half.
With only one year remaining on his rookie contract and a very talented roster around him, the Bengals need to make a critical decision this offseason. Should they extend Dalton now, they run the risk of missing out on a quarterback in this year's loaded draft, but would have security.
Should Cincinnati wait and see, Dalton could have a monster year and then hit free agency, a dangerous notion for a team notorious for being cheap. Of course, the Bengals could roll the dice by extending Dalton for a year, drafting a quarterback with one of their first couple of picks, and letting competition takes its toll.