The Bengals have two legitimate candidates for this year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But with their performances being tied together, choosing one over the other is not easy.
Before I get to trying to decide between Andy and A.J., there is another order of business I should take care of first.
Ending the “Cam vs. Andy” Debate
If you want to read an idiot calling the ROY award a “slam” for Cam, read ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas. Here is why he is absolutely full of… beans.
Anyone lobbying for Cam is going to point to one stat: total passing yards. After 11 weeks, Cam has 3093 yds to Andy’s 2509 yds. Case closed, right? Wrong.
Take a look at the schedules for both. Andy’s yards have come against far better pass defenses. FAR BETTER. Andy has faced only three opponents that currently rank #20 or lower in pass defense (including five games against teams in the top 5), while Cam has faced only five that rank above #20. There is a SERIOUS difference in the strength of schedule for the two QBs.
I decided to add up the ranks of the opponents in all 16 games that the two will face. For example, Cleveland is the #1 pass defense, so I simply scored them as a “1”, and I counted them twice because the Bengals played them twice. The composite number for all 16 Bengals’ opponents is 168. But the composite number for all 16 Panthers’ opponents is 324. Nearly double. Andy is facing the equivalent of the #10 pass defense every week while Cam is facing the #20 team. In other words, Cam is collecting his yards against far inferior pass defenses.
Cam has had three huge passing games so far. He notched 422 yds against Arizona (#25), 432 yds against Green Bay (#31) and 374 yds against Chicago (#30). But do you think he would hang 373 yds on Baltimore (#5) like Andy did?
Moving a step further, let’s look at common opponents. Both guys have faced three AFC South teams so far: the Colts, the Jaguars and the Titans. Against the Jaguars, the best of the 3 teams, Andy threw for 179 yds while Cam threw for only 158 yds. (+21 for Andy.) Against the Titans, Andy threw for 217 yds while Cam threw for 208 yds. (+9 for Andy.) And against the Colts, Andy threw for 264 yds while Cam threw for only 212 yds. (+52 for Andy.) So Andy betters Cam by 82 yds against common opponents.
The other stat the Cam supporters will compare is rushing yards. Cam has 464 yds while Andy has 81 yds. To that I ask: So what? Since when have we defined good QBs as guys who could run? The top 7 QBs only have 438 yds rushing combined. Is Cam better than all of them put together then?
I’m not trying to run down Cam Newton here. He is having a great year and is worth of being in the ROY conversation. But when you get down to it, Andy’s numbers not only hold up when compared to Cam, they really are a little better.
Now that we have settled that debate, let’s look at the Bengals’ candidate for the award this year.
POISE: Andy Dalton
Read any NFL talking head discussing Andy, and you will see something along these lines: “I know the stat sheet says he’s a rookie, but I don’t see a rookie when I watch #14 play.” Unless you are related to the kid, there is no way you expected to see such a high level of poise in the pocket from a rookie.
Andy is on pace to throw for 3649 yds this season, a mere 90 yds short of Peyton Manning’s record for rookie QBs (3739 yds). He is also on pace to throw 23 TDs, which would be 3 short of Manning’s rookie record. Then again, he would only need to be just a slight bit more productive in the remaining 5 games than he has been in the past 5 games (which included 3 of the top 5 passing defenses) to match Manning’s records.
IGNITION: A.J. Green
If you ask me who gives the Bengals’ offense its firepower, and I have to say it is A.J. Green. Here’s why I say that. Imagine that Denver grabbed A.J. with the #2 pick, so Andy’s primary WRs are Simpson and Caldwell or *shudder* Simpson and Ochocinco. See what I mean? Andy isn’t the Andy we know without A.J.
Green has 745 yds, nearly 30% of Andy’s passing total and 132 yds more than the #2 guy, Torrey Smith, even in spite of missing 1.5 games. He is a mere 45 yds from matching Percy Harvin’s rookie season, and he is on pace to exceed Marquis Colston’s rookie season. Artrell Hawkins has referred to Green as a world class athlete, and he is absolutely right.
So who do you pick for Rookie of the Year? Andy? Or A.J.?