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Andy Dalton: Criticism is impossible for me to avoid

Andy Dalton has become a magnet for criticism in his NFL career -- the insults, doubts and punchlines increasing in pull toward the Bengals quarterback with each January failure.

Dalton said Wednesday that he's aware of the constant stream of barbs that come his way as perhaps the NFL's most scrutinized quarterback. He couldn't avoid it if he tried.

"I hear it just because it's hard not to," Dalton told ESPN. "I'm sure you know, but I can post a picture on my Instagram and all it's about is ... different stuff."

That "different stuff" comes with the territory of Dalton's high-profile job, but that doesn't make it any less pleasant.

"As much as I want to say I don't look at it and I don't see it, with the world today, it's hard not to see stuff," Dalton said. "And a lot of stuff that's said, you can look at it and it could be an eighth grader or something. People can hide behind a computer screen and it's the same person that's coming up wanting my autograph. So it is what it is."

You have to feel for Dalton. His most recent January disappointment -- a loss to the Indianapolis Colts with a severely injury-depleted squad -- seemed to serve as a tipping point. His inability to raise his game in the postseason has become the dominant narrative of his career.

Truth time: Andy Dalton is a middle-of-the-road NFL quarterback. He is neither franchise quarterback nor a hopeless stiff. He exists in a purgatory between those two worlds. The pivot point of The Dalton Scale.

He doesn't deserve your scorn, he deserves your mercy.

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