Bengals’ Dalton more comfortable being leader
If a receiver runs the wrong route, Andy Dalton isn’t shy about
taking him aside and correcting the problem.
The quarterback is more comfortable with his role as a leader
entering his second season with the Cincinnati Bengals, taking more
responsibility on his inexperienced shoulders. He was so concerned
about learning the play book as a rookie last season that he left a
lot of things up to his coaches and teammates.
There was a clear difference during the Bengals’ three-day
minicamp that ended Thursday.
”I think he’s just more comfortable or confident,” offensive
tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ”He’s not walking into a situation
where who knows if the other starter’s coming back, if he’s going
to have to play and all these other things he had to have in the
back of his mind.
”Now he knows it’s his team and we’re rallying behind him and
we’ll go as far as he takes us. He has that feeling.”
The second-round pick from TCU took the Bengals to the playoffs
last season, where they lost to Houston in the first round. That
was big stuff around Cincinnati, which has had only three winning
records since 1991.
Both Dalton and rookie receiver A.J. Green – Cincinnati’s
first-round pick – made the Pro Bowl.
It was more impressive because Dalton had so little time to
learn the offense. The NFL lockout prevented him from working with
coaches after the draft. A year ago this week, the Bengals were
holding voluntary workouts at a soccer complex in the suburbs and
at the University of Cincinnati, with second-string quarterback
Jordan Palmer running the offense.
When the league and the players reached a new labor deal, Dalton
wasn’t sure if he would be the starter or whether starting
quarterback Carson Palmer would relent on his threat to sit out if
he wasn’t traded.
The entire offense was learning a new system, coordinator Jay
Gruden’s West Coast style passing attack. There was little time
with a lot to do.
Correct a teammate for making a mistake? Not a priority.
”I was trying to get the next play or trying to do things like
that, and I let the coaches handle it,” Dalton said. ”Right now,
I feel like I can go over there and say something because the next
play is second nature.
”I think I’ve done a better job this spring. If a guy runs a
route a little differently, instead of letting a coach do it, I’m
going to go over there and talk to him. Things like that, where we
make sure we’re on the same page.”
Dalton threw for 3,398 yards with 20 touchdowns and 13
interceptions last season, including a 332-yard game at Denver that
set a Bengals passing record for a rookie. His 80.4 passer rating
was the best by an AFC rookie.
He became only the fifth rookie quarterback in NFL history to
throw for 3,000 yards. Game by game, he convinced the Bengals he
was their quarterback of the future – one of the factors in owner
Mike Brown’s decision to trade Carson Palmer to Oakland at
”I feel like everybody on this team understands and knows what
they’re going to get out of me,” Dalton said. ”This year I am
able to step out a little bit more. I was able to prove myself a
little bit last year, and now everyone knows and understands we’re
going to be on the same page, and I can voice that a little bit
”I probably should have done a little better job last year, but
there were a lot of other things that were on my mind. But this
year, I’m comfortable with everybody that we’ve got.”
”Andy has looked good,” Green said. ”He’s more comfortable
out there. He knows it’s his team this year.”
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