Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Andy Dalton fits perfectly with the Titans

My top 5 QB's in the 2011 draft goes something like this:

1)  Ryan Mallett (And not because I am a Razorback homer, I am taking the "hog glasses" off)
2a)  Andy Dalton (For reasons to be explained further down)
2b) Christian Ponder (Another Article to explain)
3)  Colin Kaepnerick (As a project QB)
4)  All other project QB's (Newton, Gabbert, Locker, etc)

I have already explained what I see in Ryan Mallett and why I believe he is not only the most pro ready QB in the draft, but the best QB in the draft period.  I feel there is a tie at the next level of QB's, and none of them are named Cam Newton, Jake Locker, or Blaine Gabbert.  The reason I have Andy Dalton up there is not because he put up spectacular (but artificially inflated) numbers in college at TCU running out of a spread offense like some other QB's in the draft did, even though he did put up good numbers out of TCU's spread.  It is because in Dalton I see a smart, game managing QB.  Will he put up the huge numbers game in and game out that superstars such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees put up?  No, but he could develop into that in 3-5 years possibly, but I do not think he should get drafted by a team where he will be expected to carry the load.  I think he needs to get drafted by a team with a Pittsburgh type philosophy (*cough* *cough* Titans in 2nd round), a team that relies on a strong defense and running game, a team that only needs the quarterback to be an extension of the coach on the field, manage the game, make smart plays, put the ball in the hands of the playmakers on offense.  In Pittsburgh Ben Roethlisberger won his first Super Bowl with a great defense and great run game that was able to overcome all his shortcomings as a quarterback (he has come a long ways since then).  They won that Super Bowl in spite of "Big Ben" not because of him.  Ben was brought along slowly in an a stable organization (which the Titans have been for the most part) where he learned to read defenses, make simple audibles, and adapt to the speed of the pro game where if he made a mistake his running game and defense were there to bail him out.  This is how I see Andy Dalton's career playing out.  I am not saying that he will be the next Ben Roethlisberger, because he won't be, they are two completely different QB's in size, arm strength, and ability.  Some will question Dalton because of his size (6'2) and along with that his 3/4's release and say that he will struggle behind NFL O-lines, and I say look at Romo or Brees, plus he is extremely good rolling out of the pocket and throwing on the run. Others say he is not accurate enough, just because he was able to throw into big windows does not mean he is not accurate.  I just think that Dalton needs to be put in the right situation which is Tennessee, here is what the Titans can offer....

Right now Tennessee is only a few pieces away from being playoff contenders, and maybe one more year before they could be legitimate title contenders.  They are almost certain to use their 1st round pick (#8 overall) on a playmaking defensive line player that will be able to step in and make an immediate difference (i.e. Nick Fairley, or 1 of the many other DE's/DT's).  Depending on the development of their other players on defense, I expect the majority of this draft to be used on the defensive side of the ball (save a some O-line depth and Dalton of course).  They need to get bigger and more durable on the D-line, try to get a playmaking LB and a replacement for Chris Hope at safety since he is unlikely to be back with the team. 

Most people look at the Titans offense and see a myriad of problems, I only see one, lack of a QB.  I think their offense is on the verge, but with all the problems on the field and in the locker room cause by Vince Young the rest of the offense was stuck in neutral.  I truly believe that VY, his lack of maturity, football smarts, well smarts in general is what doomed this team (and ultimately Jeff Fisher) from the get go.  I believe they have all the other weapons needed to make this a potential Top 10 offense, and most of all be balanced.  I think Kerry Collins should be brought back to help Andy Dalton (this is all hypothetical, and based on them doing what they should and listening to me and drafting Dalton at the top of the 2nd round), or a veteran leader that will help him develop.  We know they have a top 5 RB in Chris Johnson, who is both a threat running the ball as well as taking short passes out of the backfield.  They have a reliable and underrated backup in Javon Ringer, who will not wow you with any 1 skill, but is well suited to being a productive back.

They have the "playmaker" on the outside at WR in former 1st round draft pick Kenny Britt, who has shown flashes when he is given the opportunity, and as long as he will get his focus on the field and stay out of bad situations (and away from controversial people) off of it.  I believe last years 2nd round pick, Damian Williams, will benefit the most from having a smart accurate QB like Dalton.  Williams reminds me of a possession receiver, he will fight for the ball, excels in traffic, but not a flashy WR.  He will go across the middle and catch almost anything thrown at him.  They also have some deep threats at WR that can stretch the field and open up underneath routes.  At the Tight End position I believe this will be the year that Jared Cook breaks out, he has already been working out and trying to improve his blocking skills.  While blocking will need to be a piece of his game, I see him as the ultimate safety valve for a young QB such as Dalton.  Cook is an athletic freak who is a mismatch for anybody that attempts to cover him (linebacker, nickle back, safety, DE dropping into the flats), and he will be a threat to make a huge gain and even score every time he touches the ball.  So we know that Dalton will have plenty of weapons to utilize, and with his smarts he will utilize them well.

The final piece of the puzzle for the Titans is the offensive line.  The team has some issues at the interior line positions (guards & center specifically LG) and since their head coach is the former O-Line coach and since they brought in Bruce Matthews to be the new O-line coach, do not expect them to spend high draft picks or big money in free agency (if there is FA) in upgrading the line.  I still do not understand the teams reluctance in bringing back Kevin Mawae who still has/had a few good years left in him at center.  Not only was he the best candidate for center he also would have ensured that everybody else knew what to do.  Center is currently a question mark with Eugene Amano recovering from a season ending neck injury that required surgery, and I believe it would be best to move him back to left guard where him and Michael Roos(Left Tackle) were a formidable tandem (unlikely to happen).  Left Guard needs to be upgraded from incumbent Leroy Harris who I believe is better suited as a quality backup that can fill many positions on the line, in fact I always thought that as a smarter O-lineman and with his great use of angles and leverage that he would be better suited for center, but for some reason that a coach and not myself would know he is not.

With what appears to be a solid team already built, and mainly lacking a QB, I still feel that Andy Dalton would be a great fit here, now maybe someone will read this and rip my reasoning apart, or decide that "damn he is good" and want me working for their organization. 

Other teams that might be a good fit for Dalton: 
-Carolina Panthers - Strong run game, but to many holes for 1 guy to fill
-Miami Dolphins - Always a good running team even though both primary backs are scheduled for free agency, and they have a solid defense in place, but they are probably tired of throwing 2nd round picks at QB's and I do not blame them (Pat White, Chad Henne, John Beck all draft picks, and they traded 2nd round picks for Daunte Culpepper, Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley if my memory serves me correct)
-Minnesota Vikings - Probably best RB duo in the NFL with A. Peterson and Toby Gerhart, and a defense that is looking to get younger but still solid, they may be looking for an instant upgrade through trade.

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