Do Andy Dalton's issues stem from the offensive line?

CINCINNATI -- If you watched last Thursday's game against the Cleveland Browns, you probably saw Cincinnati Bengals reserve right offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse get repeatedly turned around by the linemen and linebackers he was charged with blocking.

According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed three quarterback hurries, a quarterback hit and a sack.

Those raw numbers are not very good. Neither was Newhouse's overall play.

He wasn't alone.

Do those numbers suggest that quarterback Andy Dalton was under duress all night and didn't have time to throw? Are numbers like them the reason behind the quarterback's poor play that was best summed with his career-low 2.0 passer rating?

In other words, did his issues in the 24-3 loss stem from protection problems?

It doesn't appear to be the case. Protection breakdowns certainly might have factored, but as we have seen this season, Dalton can negotiate poor blocking and still do enough to lead his team to a win.

Dalton's problems likely went much further than the Bengals' offensive line.

Per PFF's analysis of the Bengals' nine games this season, pass protection wasn't good against the Browns, but it wasn't the worst, either. The website awarded the overall group a minus-3.1 grade in pass blocking. Cincinnati's worst pass-blocking performance, according to PFF, actually came in the Week 8 win against Baltimore. That week, the unit amassed a minus-9.3 pass-blocking grade, with five players getting negative marks.

Still, Dalton fought through the poor protection against Baltimore and successfully led a fourth-quarter comeback drive that was punctuated with his 1-yard dive on fourth-and-goal.

The Stats & Information team has the Bengals at a season-low 43.7 pass protection percentage in the Baltimore game. The percentage is calculated by determining how often an offensive line controls the line of scrimmage on all passing plays, including scrambles.

Using the Stats & Information formula, in what game did the Bengals have their best pass protection?

Last week's loss to the Browns. Cincinnati's offense controlled the line of scrimmage 56.5 percent of the game.

So much for the theory that the Bengals' offensive line was the source of Dalton's issues.

Protection still is a major issue for the Bengals, though. The offense's pass-blocking grades have, on average, declined sharply in the past six games compared to the first three. During the Bengals' 3-0 start, the unit had a combined plus-3.5 pass-block grade, per PFF. In the games since, it is averaging a plus-0.08 grade. That grade is even below the combined plus-0.4 grade they have in the three losses this season.

What do these numbers all mean?

That the Bengals' offense had a lot of problems last week, and the offensive line's inadequacies are only a small portion of them. The numbers also mean it's time for Dalton to play around his offense's problems -- firm line or not -- like he has before.