Reality Check: How does Andy Dalton compare to the greats?

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton is coming off a big road win and an AFC offensive player of the week award.

But as the team heads to Detroit this weekend, some fans aren't sure that Dalton is the quarterback to lead them deep into the playoffs. So how does he compare to some of the greats?

The saying goes; the most popular person on a football team is the backup quarterback. Although not too many Bengals fans are calling for Josh Johnson to start, there are still rumblings that Andy Dalton may not be the quarterback to take the Bengals to a playoff win.

Dalton is coming off his second offensive player of the week award for his performance at buffalo. But how does he stack up against some of the best in the business?

"There's a couple different comparisons," says coach Marvin Lewis.  "Are you comparing Andy to Matt Ryan? Are you comparing Andy to Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers? It depends on who you care to compare him to."

OK, coach, let's compare. Dalton has had a very similar career path to Matt Ryan, as they both started for their teams right away.

In Dalton's first two years as a Bengal, 32 regular season games, Dalton has: A 60 percent completion average with 7,067 yards, 47 touchdowns, 29 picks and eight fumbles. He had a 9-7 record in 2011 and 10-6 in 2012 with two playoff appearances.

In Matt Ryan's first two years as a starter in Atlanta: In 2008 and 2009, for 30 games (he missed two with injury), Ryan also had a 60 percent completion average with more than 6,300 yards, 38 touchdowns, 25 interceptions and one playoff appearance.

So that's how Dalton stacks up with Matt Ryan, how about comparing his stats to a couple of Bengals legends?

Kenny Anderson took over for Virgil Carter in the first game of '72. In his first two full seasons as a starter, Anderson had a 56 percent completion average with 4,300 yards, 25 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. In those first two years with Anderson, the Bengals were 8-6, then 10-4 with a playoff loss at Miami.

In Boomer Esiason's first two years as a starter, in 85' and 86', he had a 58 percent completion average with more than 7,400 yards, 51 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. The Bengals were 7-9 his first year, but went 10-6 his second year.

So the bottom line? Dalton's completion percentage is better than Anderson's and Boomer's, and equal to Matty Ice… And he's the only quarterback out of this stellar list to have gone to the playoffs his first two years as a starter.

Sure, we'd like him to be Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, but remember, it's only Andy's third year. This is Rodgers' ninth year in the league, sixth as a starter, and Brees is in his 13th NFL season, eighth in New Orleans.

And that's a Reality Check.

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