Morning Stripes: Bad Andy's back

This Tuesday is hereby dubbed "Andy Dalton Day" on the ESPN NFL Nation Bengals blog.

In addition to this early post on the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback and his ineffectiveness in the past two games, we'll have a couple of others throughout the day that look a little more specifically at what has gone wrong, and what could continue to go wrong for the embattled signal-caller.

We'll even look a little deeper at what went right for him during the lone play that was the highlight of the game: the 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of regulation to A.J. Green. See? All about balance, all about perspective here. There's certainly a lot of bad to rail Dalton over, but there are some bright spots; some "brilliance," to quote coach Marvin Lewis. We'll explain exactly what that "brilliance" means later.

Hopefully I've enticed you enough to come back often throughout the day.

As you well know by now, Dalton scuffled through his second straight game Sunday at Baltimore when he only completed 24 out of the 51 passes he threw in a 20-17 overtime loss. One week after an inconsistent showing in a 22-20 overtime defeat at Miami that was lost when he took a game-ending sack for a safety, the timing of this latest loss wasn't very good. Not only was it a second straight loss that came following a four-game winning streak, but it also happened to be in a division game. Even though the Bengals still hold a 1 1/2-game lead, they can't afford having many more, if any, AFC North losses.

For that reason, we kick off "Andy Dalton Day" by taking a look at the return of what some call "Bad Andy." With the playoff picture finally beginning to take shape, the Bengals need much more of the quarterback they had for four weeks last month:

  • Fox Sports Ohio's Kevin Goheen writes about how its time for Dalton to step up and lead the Bengals. As Goheen points out, too, Dalton has proven this year that he has the capability to do just that. After all, Dalton was the one who threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns in three straight games. He was the very same person who helped rally the Bengals to a series of wins that were sparked by his big passing days and heady quarterbacking. So it's there. It's just not there all the time. If Cincinnati wants to make the postseason noise it believe it can, it will need "Good Andy" to show up much sooner rather than later.

  • One of the contributing factors to Dalton's difficulty in getting into the types of rhythms that he has enjoyed at times this season has come from the way his team starts games. For the past two weeks, in particular, the Bengals have gotten off to the types of slow starts that have forced them to throw a lot just to get back into ballgames. That's when Dalton has to press, and others do, too. Even though there have been some strong comebacks when Dalton's Bengals have been down this season, in the past two weeks those rallies have come up just short. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. writes about the slow starts and how they're becoming more commonplace than the Bengals would like.

  • Something else that didn't help Cincinnati this past weekend was the endless stream of penalties. Nine total were called on the Bengals, who set a team record for yards penalized. The 134 yards they were flagged for were just 55 short of Baltimore's 189 yards of total offense. The Dayton Daily News' Jay Morrison wrote a little on the record-setting day for infractions.

  • This weekend, the Bengals will be hoping the penalties can be kept to a minimum when they host the Cleveland Browns in a rematch. According to this quick story from the Associated Press, recently injured Browns quarterback Jason Campbell appears healthy as he and his team come off a bye week rested and focused on claiming a win in what will be the 81st edition of the "Battle for Ohio."

  • Bengals fans in Cincinnati wanting to meet a rookie and help save the environment can do so Saturday in a popular tailgating lot around Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati's FOX19 reports that defensive end Margus Hunt is among those expected to be on hand for an electronic recycling event.