When the Cincinnati Bengals released veteran quarterback Andy Dalton on Thursday morning, the first logical connection that many made was to the New England Patriots.
Currently, the Patriots are the betting favorite to land Andy Dalton, and it makes sense. After all, the Patriots were expected to draft a quarterback during the 2020 NFL Draft but didn’t. And there are few teams on the market that are still in need of a veteran passer.
That’s where Andy Dalton would come in. He may not be the best quarterback in the NFL and the nine-year starter has probably plateaued as an average starter or top backup at this point. But that’s still something that the Patriots could use.
And one area that Dalton might still find success in? Engineering close wins in the fourth quarter.
This may be a bit surprising, but since coming into the NFL as a second-round pick by the Bengals in the 2011 NFL Draft, Dalton ranks top-five among quarterbacks in both game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks, as you can see via the graphic below.
Of course, it’s worth noting that to have game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks, the game has to be close in the fourth quarter or the quarterback’s team has to be trailing. That’s part of the reason that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers aren’t highly-ranked on these lists. Simply put, their teams play fewer games decided by one possession in the fourth quarter than some of their counterparts.
Nonetheless, it’s still impressive that Dalton has been able to accomplish this feat with consistency. In all but one of his first eight seasons, he orchestrated at least three game-winning drives for the Bengals despite the varying degrees of weaponry and blocking he had around him. His ability to do that was a big part of the reason that the Bengals found success and made the playoffs five consecutive times to open Dalton’s career.
Overall, Dalton has completed 59.8 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter for 7,961 yards, 55 total touchdowns (eight rushing), and 35 interceptions for a passer rating of 81.8. And in the fourth quarter of games decided by seven or fewer points since his second Pro Bowl season in 2014, he has completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 2,677 yards, 14 total touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
The numbers aren’t the best, but they’re solid enough.
The Patriots may be comfortable rolling with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as their top quarterback pair. But if they aren’t, they could consider Dalton. He may not be the passer he once was, but he can still keep a team competitive late. And that will be viewed as a positive as the veteran looks to land with his next NFL team.