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Andy Dalton had a strong start in his 2012 campaign, but ended on a down note.
The first, and arguably most important factor for the Bengals this offseason is to effectively manage the development of the players currently on the roster.
There have been a fair amount of players who underachieved this season or simply did not live up to expectations.
The key for the coaching staff here is to allow these players to grow into their role with the organization and utilize their strengths efficiently.
Let's take a look at both an offensive and defensive player in question.
Dalton started the 2012 campaign red-hot. During the first quarter of the season, he was among the top five quarterbacks in the league in quarterback rating and passing yardage.
As the offense changed, however, so did Dalton's play.
He began to become indecisive in the pocket and this forced him to make early, off-target throws or to hold the ball looking for a throwing alley—this caused a very high amount of sacks.
There is no doubt that Dalton certainly has the tools to be a very efficient quarterback in the NFL. What he needs is the right amount of instruction at his position along with a stable and consistent offensive scheme.
Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese needs to work with Dalton on his mental clock during the offseason, as well as his pocket presence.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden needs to find an identity for this offense and implement it with Dalton's abilities in mind. After this scheme has gone underway, Gruden needs to stick with it for the duration of the season.
Simple changes like this could result in a tremendous boost in Dalton's play next season.
Burfict had one of the more remarkable seasons for a rookie in the NFL in 2012. After going undrafted, he linked up with the Bengals and became a starter within the first quarter of the season.
He then went on to claim the tackling title for the Bengals and, if he played all season, could have been a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Burfict is a very aggressive linebacker and a great tackler in space. However, he is still a work in progress as some of his play needs to be cleaned up.
There is a good possibility that Burfict will move back to his natural position at middle linebacker this season if Cincinnati does not re-sign Rey Maualuga.
That being said, Burfict will need to work on his over-aggression against the run at the line of scrimmage. He needs to learn to be patient and stay in his gap when pursuing a rusher.
In the passing game, he has been better than expected. He does not contain great hip fluidity, but he has a knack for shadowing tight ends nicely.
With a full offseason knowing that Burfict will be a starter, the coaching staff will have plenty of time to clean up his play for the coming season. With the right offseason coaching, Burfict could very well become a dangerous force in 2013.