The Cincinnati Bengals have alleviated pressure from quarterback Andy Dalton.
Or have they?
It can be argued that with the supremely talented roster Marvin Lewis' club has assembled, Dalton should feel at ease under center.
Then again, the abundance of skill on both offense and defense in Cincinnati may create a more stressful environment in year three for the young signal-caller.
Remember, it became a popular notion that Dalton "held back" the Bengals as a rookie and did the same in 2012, when they lost on both occasions in opening round of the playoffs to the Houston Texans.
Frankly, that notion was true.
The Bengals typically won in spite of Dalton, not because of him.
While his completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown tosses and quarterback rating all improved last season, so did his interception percentage.
Also, according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required), his accuracy percentage—completion percentage counting drops as catches—decreased on passes more than 20 yards down the field from 46.7 in 2011 to 32.8 in 2012.
A.J. Green is one of the NFL's preeminent receivers and is just entering the prime of his career. Who knows how high his ceiling is.
Behind him in the receiving corps sits Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins, much different in terms of skill set, but similarly effective chain-movers.
The consensus top tight end prospect Tyler Eifert was added in the first round of the draft in hopes of creating an Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski-esque duo with Jermaine Gresham.
Eifert has big-time red-zone potential with a spectacular ability to high-point the football.
Fleet-footed running back Giovani Bernard was grabbed in Round 2 to infuse more electricity into the running game, and four players were added to the defense, including long-time Pittsburgh Steelers edge-rusher James Harrison.
The entire offensive line is intact, especially after mauling right tackle Andre Smith was extended during the draft.
On paper, the Bengals are loaded.
As is typically the case with any club, the quarterback will either be the subject of harsh criticism or extreme praise—that's just how it goes.
For Andy Dalton, there are no more excuses in 2013.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!