Tom Brady has many things: Super Bowl rings. MVP trophies. Millions of dollars. A supermodel wife (who also has millions of dollars). A closet full of Uggs. That beautiful, perfectly manicured beard stubble that envelops his perfectly cleft chin.
But he doesn’t have Mike Zimmer.
1. Mike Zimmer
Tom Brady also doesn’t have a streak of 53 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Mike Zimmer, the crowned king of dropping f-bombs on HBO, rallied the troops for an incredible defensive effort that surrendered only 6 points to the Patriots on two field goals. There are plenty of impressive individual performances that can be highlighted on the Bengals defense—Vontaze Burfict, Wallace Gilberry, Geno Atkins, Chris Crocker, Terrence Newman, Pacman Jones—and that’s kind of the point. The entire unit stepped up, with both Leon Hall and Michael Johnson sidelined, and flat-out mauled the Patriots. The Pats finished the day with 248 total yards (only 166 passing), two turnovers, 0-1 in the red zone, and a putrid 1-12 on third down. And did I mention only 6 points? Tell ‘em, Samuel L.
Zim and the crew did get a bit of help from above though, as the Cincinnati skies unleashed an end-of-the-world type downpour, with rain drops the size of Andrew Whitworth’s head falling just as the Pats took the field late in the fourth quarter to try and tie the game. The elements suddenly turned Brady into…uh…Andy Dalton, drowning out any chance the Pats had at completing a pass, let alone reaching the endzone. Mother Nature kicks ass.
3. Andy Dalton
It was certainly an improvement over last week’s abomination, but it is also very clear that the Bengals QB1 will determine the ceiling of this team. The defense and offensive skill players are good enough that even an incompetent Dalton won’t prevent them from competing, an average Dalton will give them a good chance to win, and a good Dalton could elevate them to a dangerous playoff team.
Which leads to the next problem. Thus far—in his career and this season—Dalton has been defined by his mediocrity. He had an 81.1 QB rating on Sunday, a few ticks below his average of 83.8. He made a handful of nice plays/throws (the deep ball to Marvin Jones backed against their own goal line on third down, the third down scramble and pitch to the ‘Nard Dawg, a few of the tosses to AJ, a couple decent runs) and a few to the contrary (the egregious interception—albeit his first ever in the red zone—as well as a crappy deep ball to Green and a number of panic attacks against the blitz). On Sunday, it was good enough for 13 points and a victory. Mediocrity won’t always be so rewarding.
One of the main issues with Dalton seems to be that he is a total spaz when being pressured by the defense. According to Pro Football Focus, Dalton was 16-21 (76.2%) on dropbacks with no pressure, versus 4-6 (66.7%) on dropbacks with pressure. He was also 17-21 (81%) with two sacks on plays when he wasn’t blitzed, as opposed to 3-6 (c’mon, you can do this one) with two sacks on plays he was blitzed. A coupla things: his stats on Sunday actually weren’t that bad against pressure and blitzes; it was watching him squirm and soil himself that was more painful on this particular occasion. (Go back and watch the third-down scramble and toss to Gio Bernard; Dalton is about a second away from dropping to the ground and curling up in the fetal position.) ALSO, all QBs should ostensibly be worse when facing pressure, and vice versa. But with Dalton, it’s too big a difference. Adam Flango will have a more in-depth breakdown of Dalton in a couple weeks, and I don’t want to step all over that, but quickly: Last season, he was worst in the league in regard to completion percentage and sack percentage against pressure, and was second-worst in accuracy percentage (according to Pro Football Focus). This season, he isn’t doing much better. Plus, you can visibly see how rattled he gets when guys are coming after him. It’s obviously something he can continue working on and getting comfortable with, but for now, if I were an opposing defensive coordinator, I’d be sending the house early and often.
4. Color commentator Dan Dierdorf
Ya know, for being the worst.
Fourth-and-two from their own 17-yard line, two minutes left, Bengals up 13-6. Kevin Huber, amidst the earliest foreboding of the torrential downpour moving in, uncorks a 57-yard beauty of a punt, pinning the Pats back at their own 35. Like a boss.
Honorable mention: The never-ending quest for IDENTITY, Pacman rocking one glove on his interception, Wallace Gilberry for having a dope name, Andre Smith’s continued All-Pro campaign, the ageless wonder Chris Crocker.
Speaking of Chris Crocker: Bengals lead, 13-3. Danny Amendola catches a 16-yard Tom Brady pass near the goal line, rolls on to his head, and is a nanosecond from falling into the end zone for a score when Chris Crocker touches him down. New England has first-and-goal from inside the one. Handoff, left side, no gain, second-and-goal. Incomplete pass (to an eligible offensive lineman), third-and-goal. Incomplete pass into good coverage by Pacman, fourth-and-goal. The Patriots kick a field goal. Saying it’s a “game of inches” isn’t always cliché.
Good stuff from ESPN’s Coley Harvey on Lord Zimmer.
Statistics, revisited: Last week, I documented the eerily similar statistics for both Dalton and Brady through each of their first four games this season.
-Andy Dalton: 94-148 (63.5%, 6.78 ypa); 1,003 yards; 5 TDs, 4 INTs; 83.2 QB rating.
-Tom Brady: 93-158 (58.9%, 6.42 ypa); 1,014 yards; 7 TDs, 2 INTs; 87.4 QB rating.
And on Sunday, after going head-to-head?
–Andy Dalton: 20-27 (74%, 7.9 ypa); 212 yards; 0 TDs, 1 INT; 81.1 QB rating.
-Tom Brady: 18-38 (47%, 5.2 ypa); 197 yards; 0 TDs, 1 INT; 52.2 QB rating.
What I wrote before about Dalton is still true, and there’s no question which of the two QBs the Bengals—anyone, really—would rather have. But it doesn’t change the facts. Those are the numbers. Those are some stats for your ass.