Every year around this time, bad teams take stock and do what they can to salvage the season. Often that means considering a change under center.
Look no further than Cincinnati, where Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been one of the league’s worst passers this season.
Dalton has completed just 54.5 percent of his passes for 394 yards, throwing four interceptions for a woeful 47.2 rating, just a few points higher than the rating for an incomplete pass (39.6). According to adjusted net yards per attempt — a metric that correlates highly with team wins, giving a bonus for touchdowns while penalizing the passer for interceptions and sacks — Dalton has a 2.4 ANY/A, less than half the league average (5.9), making him a huge liability.
Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that “the feeling within the [Bengals’] locker room” is that “if the struggles continue” under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, “the next one to go could be Dalton.” If Dalton is benched, that would put backup AJ McCarron in the hot seat with speculation that Colin Kaepernick could be a possible replacement soon after.
It’s a good idea — Kaepernick should be on a roster this season — but no quarterback could produce behind the Bengals’ terrible offensive line. (Cincinnati has failed to score a touchdown this season.)
According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, Cincinnati’s offensive line has allowed a sack, hit or hurry on 41 percent of the team’s passing plays. The rest of the league has allowed a rate of 29 percent. From 2011, Dalton’s rookie year, to 2015, the Bengals’ offensive line has never ranked lower than fifth in terms of protecting their quarterback. In 2016, they ranked 10th. This year, 31st. That’s bad news for Dalton, whose passer rating goes from 94.2 in a clean pocket to 58.7 under pressure.
|Andy Dalton, 2011 to 2016||Comp%||Yards per pass||Int%||Sack %||Passer rating|
|Plays under pressure||42%||6.2||4%||22%||58.7|
When facing a situation like this, few changes under center could make a difference. However, there are other situations that would see Kaepernick as an upgrade.
San Francisco 49ers
Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer completed 15 of 27 passes for 99 yards and an interception in the Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. His 2.43 adjusted net yards per attempt and 12.0 Total Quarterback Rating through two games is second only to Dalton in terms of awfulness. According to Pro Football Focus, Hoyer is the worst quarterback in the league.
left his heart had success in San Francisco and even helped the team reach the Super Bowl in 2015. And unlike Hoyer, Kaepernick would at least give the team a viable option when using play action.
Hoyer is 9 for 16 on play-action passes with zero touchdowns and an interception producing a 35.9 passer rating, lower than an incomplete pass (39.6). Last season with the Bears, his passer rating was 87.0 when using play action. Kaepernick, meanwhile, posted passer ratings of 91.7 and 92.0 in 2016 and 2015, respectively, when the call was for a play-action pass.
Mike Glennon looks good on paper — 67 percent completion rate and an 81.2 passer rating this season — but many of his good performances have come in garbage time. When the Bears have less than a 20 percent chance to win, Glennon averages 5.8 adjusted net yards per attempt. When it goes to 20 percent or more, his ANY/A drops to 2.3.
Not to mention Kaepernick is also a threat to run the ball. He rushed the ball 114 times from 2015 to 2016, producing 724 yards and three touchdowns. Glennon has rushed the ball 37 times in his five-year career.
Carson Palmer used to be good, I swear. The 37-year-old is a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback who completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 6.24 adjusted net yards per attempt heading into the 2017 season. This year, he has been underwhelming: 46 of 84 (54.8 percent) for 600 yards, two touchdowns and a league-leading four interceptions. Plus, Palmer’s passer rating in a clean pocket is 86.8 this year, the eighth-worst performance according to Pro Football Focus.
Kaepernick’s passer rating in a clean pocket during the 2016 season was 98.7. The season before it was 93.1.
If you ask Kaepernick, he’s “ready right now” to join a team, and he said Sunday that he’s been “working out daily.” So if your favorite team looks a little unsteady under center, perhaps it’s time to hope it gives Kaepernick a call.
Read more on the NFL: