<
>
Insider

Andy Dalton has been impressive so far

10/5/2011
Andy Dalton has led the surprising Cincinnati Bengals to a 2-2 record this season. Al Bello/Getty Images

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag every Monday and Wednesday. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: When the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars face off, possible franchise QBs will be facing off as well. Do you think Blaine Gabbert or Andy Dalton has been more impressive so far this year?

-- Brian (Calif.)

A: So far, Brian, it's Dalton. But Dalton also is playing with better wide receivers and has been the starter since Day 1 of training camp, whereas Gabbert was working behind David Garrard and Luke McCown. Gabbert also doesn't have anybody like A.J. Green to throw the ball to. The two will get a look at each other up close now, and Gabbert may pass Dalton one day. But so far, Dalton has impressed more.


Q: The New York Giants are an impressive 3-1, especially considering all of the injuries that they have suffered. Have they been the most surprising team so far this season?

-- Jamil (N.J.)

A: They've been among the most surprising teams, Jamil. But the Washington Redskins also are 3-1, and no one expected that. No one expected the San Francisco 49ers to be 3-1. Nobody expected the Buffalo Bills to be 3-1. Nobody expected the Detroit Lions to be unbeaten. This doesn't diminish what the Giants have done. They have turned around their season when, after one week, there were people wondering if Tom Coughlin's job would be in jeopardy. (That always gets me; why would any fan base want to get rid of one of the NFL's best coaches?) The Giants are a mild surprise, but that's only because of their past success. They're usually good and they were expected to be again this season.

Q: The Kansas City Chiefs play in another "Andrew Luck Bowl" this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. Can you remember a season where we were already talking about teams intentionally tanking for a prospect this early in the year? Is Luck really worth all this hype?

-- Brendan (Minn.)

A: Happens every year, Brendan. We were talking about Jake Locker at this time last year. But here's the funny thing: Sometimes college quarterbacks fall off and prognostications change. However, it doesn't seem like it will happen with Luck. Everyone you talk to raves about him. I've heard people say he's the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning. That alone should tell you something. And the team that has the No. 1 pick will take Luck. And in the unlikely event it happens to be a team like Carolina or St. Louis that lands the No. 1 pick -- a team that already has a franchise quarterback in place -- it can auction off the pick for the type of price the Chargers got for Eli Manning, when San Diego was able to come away with Philip Rivers instead. The team that gets the No. 1 pick is in a tremendous spot. It either takes its franchise quarterback for the next 15 years, or it auctions off the pick to the highest bidder -- and there will be plenty.


Q: The Pittsburgh Steelers are banged up, with injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison, among others. Is it officially time for Steelers fans to panic?

-- Dominic (R.I.)

A: Panic is a bit strong, Dominic. But if I were a Steelers fan, I'd be worried. And I would have been worried even before the injuries to Roethlisberger and Harrison. For starters, there's a reason it's so difficult for the loser of the previous season's Super Bowl to make it back to the playoffs the next season. Pittsburgh already was facing that challenge. But now it's doing it with an offensive line that has been beyond subpar and a defense that looks like it has aged overnight. It's hard not to think of the Steelers as one of the toughest teams in football, and they're still going to be a tough out. But based on what we've seen through a quarter of the season, it's not hard to see the Steelers finishing this season out of the playoffs.


Q: With Kenny Britt out for the year, do you think the Tennessee Titans will look to add help at wide receiver? At 3-1, they appear to be a playoff contender, but they need a deep threat to open up running lanes for Chris Johnson.

-- Becca (Ariz.)

A: They signed former Rams wide receiver Donnie Avery, Becca. They're hoping he helps, eventually. But the truth of the matter is, once Britt went down for the season, the pressure was going to fall on Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins, Damian Williams and even Jared Cook to help pick up the load. There isn't anyone on the street that the Titans are going to sign who's going to replace one of the best young receivers in the game.