I mentioned this in yesterday's article about stopping the Bengals, but Andy Dalton is essentially a Dickensian tale of duality in the form of an NFL quarterback.
With time in the pocket, Dalton has at least league average accuracy, underrated strength in his throwing arm and a knack for finding the open receiver. He steps up into the pocket, delivers crisp throws and is particularly good at identifying when A.J. Green is in a position to wreak havoc. This is not the fun Dalton for other NFL teams to play against.
Under pressure, Dalton reverts into a rookie. His mechanics go to hell, his footwork turns sloppy and he looks for the first opportunity to get rid of the football, which frequently leads to interceptions or at least incomplete throws. This Dalton is a delightful snack for opposing pass rushers. Om nom nom.
The issue is getting the pressure to come home, because as Bengals fans and Bill Barnwell's article linked above will tell you, the Bengals have an effective offensive line. I'm still hopeful the Falcons can get after guard Clint Boling and rookie center Russell Bodine, but it's tough to deny that the Bengals have the kind of line the Falcons usually struggle to fight through.We know this Falcons team isn't likely to have more than an average pass rush in 2014, either.
So what to do? Barnwell mentions my preferred strategy, which may be Mike Nolan's on Sunday. That strategy would be to disguise blitzes, keep Dalton on his toes and send five or more pass rushers whenever it's feasible to do so. The Falcons are fortunate enough to have a quality secondary that should be able to at least limit the damage from A.J. Green. Throw one of your speedier linebackers on Giovanni Bernard and you've got yourself the makings of a defensive strategy, one that relies heavily on taking away the Bengals' top two weapons and confusing Dalton. Other teams have made it work, and the Falcons simply have to be able to hit the quarterback to have an effect on his game.
I'll turn it over to you. Do you believe the Falcons will get to Dalton?
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $250,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 2's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $25,000. Starts Sunday, September 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.