Cincinnati Bengals: 5 Reasons to Have Faith in Andy Dalton
At the time of this article's creation we find ourselves on the doorstep of day 92 of the NFL lockout — roughly halfway to the regular season — with many issues surrounding the Bengals and the league as a whole remaining stagnant.
What we do know in spite of the 'hot mess' that is the Carson Palmer situation in Cincinnati, is that the Bengals have taken precautionary steps in the picking of Andy Dalton and are fully prepared to make him their guy going forward.
With that in mind, here's 5 reasons why saying sayonara to Carson Palmer and hello to Andy Dalton, might just be in the best interest of the Cincinnati Bengals...
Carson Is Losing the Locker-Room
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In recent weeks the Bengals roster have been lining up to pass judgement on the Carson Palmer situation, with a general feeling of disdain and resentment being prevalent.
Cedric Benson called the possibility of a Palmer return;
"detrimental to the team."
A statement that Tank Johnson later called "Absolutely right".
"If Carson don’t want to be here, damn him, period, point blank."
Now obviously one would be wrong to suggest that the team as a whole feels this way, but with players beginning to comment like this, it just goes to show that the longer this goes on the more it affects the rest of the team and these few players that have spoken up already are just the start.
You could argue that Palmer could come back and have full support of the team, but he needs to make his intentions clear sooner rather than later if he wants any sort of cohesiveness on-field in 2011. If he continues to drag this process out, and still decides to come back he might have to win over a lot more players than just the three who have passed comment so far...
This is good news for Andy however as he is already building a relationship with his new squad in team workouts, and has every intention of earning the teams respect as soon as possible.
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Going into the 2011 NFL Draft, just about every prospect in the first two rounds had their background and character scrutinized as if they were running for President. The likes of Ryan Mallett and Nick Fairley took a pounding over questions of their character, and though it didn't affect his Draft position, Cam Newton's biggest detractors focused on his character.
Good news for the Bengals then, for once the Bengals front office decided to pick a player with no character concerns whatsoever, in fact Andy Dalton is said to be a guy of impeccable character and a real professional.
He has shown poise and professionalism both in pre/post draft interviews as well as on less formal appearances on NFL Network, among other interviews.
His eagerness to learn, and desire to earn the starting gig seem altogether genuine, and I have to admit that I too have as much faith as Bengals management in this kids work ethic and desire. He has shown himself to be a real workhorse and someone willing to spend a long time studying, but most of all he just really wants to play and play hard, something that Jay Gruden spoke about pre-draft.
Whether or not Dalton has the natural on-field ability remains to be seen, but he definitely has the character attributes to be the face of the franchise, and with those character attributes comes a work ethic that can transcend the need for athletic ability, the name Drew Brees springs to mind.
I have no worries about Dalton in terms of turning up on time and setting an example for the rest of the team for years to come and that really is a big relief for a Bengals fan.
Dalton Is a Winner
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There is no denying Andy Dalton is a winner. He was the most winningest QB of the 2011class and lead the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season this past year, culminating with an emphatic Rose Bowl victory, that very much boosted his credentials.
Now one can point to the usual suspects and say Dalton had an easy ride, but it is altogether irrelevant to the point I am trying to establish. Winning is something that you become accustomed to and you thrive off of, and Andy Dalton is very much accustomed to winning. Sitting atop a 42-7 record for his college career, Dalton will bring that firepower to Cincinnati and give the team the vocal leader it really needs.
Let's not suggest that Dalton will win a bunch of games in 2011, rather I see his year playing out similarly to Colt McCoy's in 2010. While McCoy didn't put up the W's he showed a tenacity and ability to lead that has likely solidified his place as starter in Cleveland for the foreseeable future, giving both his team mates and his employers reason to believe in him.
Dalton can play that same role for Cincinnati. He may not garner the amount of media salivation that Cam Newton does, but Dalton can use his attitude and his drive to bring about success in the Queen City. A strong leader is integral to an offensive mindset and the Bengals are in need of a fresh face, pumped and ready to go, rather than a beaten up game wearied Carson Palmer under center for another year.
While Dalton's winning ways will be thoroughly challenged in the NFL, he can still bring his fiery winning mentality to Cincinnati, something that will be vitally important in improving morale and giving players belief in the team, and focusing and building a new cohesive offensive identity.
With the Bratkowski era over, we are now entering the era of Jay Gruden and his west coast offense, and with it comes a new buzzword for the Bengals offense to focus their attention around, YAC's (Yards-After-Catch).
That's where Andy fits in. He may have been slated for not having elite arm strength, but one thing is for sure, Dalton is highly regarded in terms of putting the ball in his receivers hands on short routes, favoring the YAC, with accuracy and ball placement being the two main strengths of his game. This proved to be a major contributor to the Bengals picking him up and will continue to be a significant on the field going forward.
Dalton's ball placement skills will be his main focus going into 2011, and though he can make the long throws if needed, Gruden will likely limit the airtime that Dalton gets early on. It definitely gives Bengals fans something to be hopeful for, in college Dalton clocked a 71-30 Touchdown to Interception ratio with most interceptions coming in his Freshman year. It certainly does bode well for the system Dalton is going into, and will make his transition to the NFL slightly less daunting, as he transitions from the spread to the west coast. Playing to Dalton's strength is a great way to proceed.
Presents on Offense
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Andy Dalton has certainly been handed a real treasure chest of young talent to work with in Cincinnati. Whether its the new kid on the block and first round pick A.J. Green, the brightest wide receiver prospect for many a year, or his fellow first round pick Jermaine Gresham the big man entrusted with adding another point of attack for the Bengals offense, things really do look good for Dalton.
Not only does he have these two great young prospects to throw to, but they are also complimented by solid and reliable receiver Jordan Shipley who Carson Palmer took a shine to in 2010, for his tough and clinical route running.
Not forgetting newly revitalized Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson who are both beginning to show that they have something to contribute to the team, and could well develop into good solid receivers.
Perhaps more important will be the re-signing of running back Cedric Benson, who, if he does return, will likely be Dalton's bell-cow in the backfield, carrying the brunt of the workload for the Bengals offense, with the hope that he can turn erratic recent play into consistency resembling his 2009 campaign.
In terms of rookie QB's walking into a team where they have all of the tools and potential to be good right from the get-go, Dalton is perhaps second only to Christian Ponder in Minnesota right now, but both face an arguably easier predicament than Cam Newton in Carolina...
Despite the apprehension with which Bengaldom greeted the pick, we can have faith in the fact that Andy Dalton is not being asked to orchestrate a one man show, rather, he is supported by and will very much rely on the talents around him in order to have success right away, and they are not in short supply.