<
>

Andy Dalton's biggest improvement in 2015 was minimizing turnovers

CINCINNATI -- With the offseason now here for the Cincinnati Bengals, we're taking a daily look at a few statistics that either defined the past season, or went overlooked during it.

Today, we highlight the following number:

3.57

From the time he started playing the quarterback position as a kid in his native Texas, Andy Dalton’s marching orders have been simple: avoid turnovers.

As former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer demonstrated in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, bad, untimely interceptions can cost a team a shot at winning a Super Bowl. Palmer had four of them in the Arizona Cardinals’ loss to the Carolina Panthers. Make no mistake, Dalton has had a similar performance, but this past season, he tried hard to prove that such days are well behind him. (Dalton threw four interceptions in the 2013 regular-season finale win over Baltimore)

In 2015, a season in which he was part of the MVP conversation before a December thumb injury derailed him, Dalton had just one multi-interception game. During the Nov. 1 road win at Pittsburgh Steelers, he was picked off twice. That same game, Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted three times, including two by Bengals safety Reggie Nelson, who finished the season tied for the NFL lead in interceptions.

One statistic that really showed how much Dalton had cut back on the turnovers? His touchdown-to-interception ratio.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dalton threw 3.57 touchdowns for every interception he tossed this past season. That ratio was dramatically better than what he had in his first four seasons, when he averaged a 1.50.

Dalton's career-best 3.57 touchdown/interception ratio came one season after his career-worst of 1.12. It also ranked fourth in the league behind Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.

In terms of actual interceptions thrown, Dalton's seven tied for the league's second-fewest among quarterbacks who started at least 10 games. Only Tyrod Taylor (six) had fewer. In 2014, Dalton threw 17 interceptions, three shy of his career high.

Indeed, the most dramatic step forward Dalton took this past year had to do with how well he kept the football out of opposing players' hands.

Now that his former quarterbacks coach, Ken Zampese, is his offensive coordinator, Dalton will look to build upon his success next season.