The Cincinnati Bengals have shown they are one of the most talented franchises in the NFL and while many seem intent on elevating their quarterback Andy Dalton into something he is not, the Bengals appear to be a quarterback away from a Super Bowl team. If Dalton gets hot at the right time, the Bengals might be able to out talent the opponent in the playoffs but that is difficult to do three times in a row.
The Bengals are like the Houston Texans were for the past two years where they won a combined 22 games, two division titles and were thought to be a big time contender for the Super Bowl only to lose in the second round of the playoffs both years when they found out that Matt Schaub was not good enough to get them to a Super Bowl. The Texans as a roster were overwhelming and just an incredible collection of talent on both sides of the ball only to be let down by the quarterback position. The nightmare scenario for the Bengals is waking up in a few years having seen this remarkable amount of talent walk through their doors and have nothing to show for it, which is what is happening in Houston.
When Dalton is good, the Bengals are dominant. When he is average, the Bengals are good. The times when Dalton is mediocre or bad, the Bengals are labeled as playing down to their opponents when everyone else on the team is relatively consistent and Dalton is the one who is fluctuating in terms of his performance.
The Bengals are bracing for the loss of defensive end Michael Johnson this offseason and they may be running into some other contracts they simply may not be able to pay, much like what happened with Jonathan Joseph a couple years ago. The Bengals have an extremely talented roster, so they are pressed to try to get the most out of it while they have it.
The Bengals have a turnkey offense that is ready made for a quarterback to have success. A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, and a number of other talented support weapons such as Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones and Andrew Hawkins make for a great set of weapons to throw the ball. On top of that, they have a talented, young offensive line and a running game that should only get better with time with Giovani Bernard in the fold. Dalton does not make them better. He simply facilitates their offense. If they can find someone who can elevate the players around them, they are a potential dynasty. Finding that player is easier said than done, but the Bengals should be looking.
The Bengals may not be actively looking to replace Dalton, but they should be looking to bring in competition that can potentially jump him on the depth chart. If someone is good enough to pass up Dalton, they are a much better team. Dalton can lead a great team to the playoffs, but he is going to have an extremely difficult time leading them to the Super Bowl. Neither Dalton or Schaub is a bad quarterback, but they are not good enough to carry a team to the Super Bowl.