Morning Stripes: Andy Dalton speaks

Good Wednesday morning, everyone. Can you believe it? The Cincinnati Bengals' bye week is already almost half over. Time flies when ...

Speaking of time, it seems like forever ago when Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was scorching through his schedule, putting up the types of numbers that not only made him the AFC offensive player of October, but also had him looking like the engineer of a possible Super Bowl-bound team. For four weeks, Andy wasn't only good. He was great.

But here we are, sitting in the middle of the Bengals' bye, wondering where that quarterback went. Over the past three games, he has looked like a considerably different player. Interceptions have been the norm -- eight in this stretch alone -- and the lowest consecutive showings of completion percentages in his entire career. Defenses in recent weeks, Dalton has said, have been better. This is true.

But the defenses during his assault on October weren't very bad, either.

As the Bengals and their fans continue to scratch their heads over the Jekyll/Hyde nature of their inconsistent quarterback, he let it be known on the final practice day of this week that confidence is not the issue. Like he said in this ESPN.com report from Tuesday, he believes he's "confident as ever."

It's a fair statement for him to make. After all, he was asked by a reporter where his confidence level stood entering the bye and on the heels of the worst three-game stretch, statistically speaking, of his career. It was a fair question, too. As the Bengals' corner of the football universe continues wondering what's going on with Dalton, lacking confidence seems like a logical explanation for his struggles at this point.

With Dalton's comments from Tuesday as the pacesetter, let's kick off the rest of our Wednesday Morning Stripes:

  • Dalton's play has obviously been a hot-button issue of late for those in "Bengaldum," as one Cincinnati Enquirer reader put it. On his "Morning Line" column from Tuesday, a collection of thoughts on Cincinnati sports teams, Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty posted an email he received from a Bengals fan who is on the Dalton train. It was a defense for "Good Andy," as Daugherty put it. Ultimately, Daugherty disagreed with the email's visceral point, but acknowledged that it was a convincing a defense of Dalton. That it was.

  • Didn't get a chance to link to this earlier in the week, but this is the Columbus Dispatch's game story from Sunday's 41-20 Bengals win over the Cleveland Browns. As Todd Jones writes, this pivotal win brightens the Bengals' outlook and should put them in strong position for a postseason run. For the Browns, a team that entered that game desperate to shake up the division, the loss sends Cleveland in a slightly different direction. This weekend's game against Pittsburgh could be make or break for the Browns.

  • The Associated Press, inspired by A.J. Green's Hail Mary snag at Baltimore last week, published this story Tuesday on the art of the Hail Mary, and how rare the completion of the play is. When he saw the 51-yard touchdown reception, Roger Staubach apparently told his wife that the play wasn't only a Hail Mary. "That was an Our Father," he said.

  • Finally, we'll have a little more on this on the Bengals blog later in the morning, but some players had a chance to speak Tuesday about the news that their former teammate, Thomas Howard, had died in a car accident in Northern California early Monday morning. According to this from Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, linebacker Rey Maualuga, a close friend of Howard's, is working with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to get Howard's No. 53 jersey hung in the defensive meeting room when the team returns from the bye.