2011 Bengals Rookie Recap: Andy Dalton's Surprise and A.J. Green's Success

Jordan Grabow@jordanimalContributor IFebruary 2, 2012

Can Andy Dalton match his 2011 success?
Can Andy Dalton match his 2011 success?Grant Halverson/Getty Images

If there was one thing NFL fans expected in 2011, it was not a playoff appearance by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals entered the season coming off of a 4-12 record in 2010 and numerous questions on both sides of the ball, including what Andy Dalton and A.J. Green could bring to their struggling offense.

The way Dalton and Green did it was almost unheard of.

Dalton took the reigns of a Bengals team that knew they needed to start over and they choose him as the man to lead it all—he did just that. Dalton wowed football fans, particularly of the Bengal variety, with his ability to lead a team.

He was a steal for the Bengals at 35th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, and coaches and players around the NFL are impressed with his poise and veteran-like confidence. He finished the season with 3,300+ yards and 20 touchdowns, and is one of five rookie quarterbacks to throw 20 touchdowns and the only one to win at least eight games.

The fourth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Green finished the season with 1,000+ yards and seven touchdowns as he broke the Bengals' franchise record for receiving yards in a season by a rookie.

Green was the perfect weapon for Dalton, and the two gave Cincinnati one of the most prolific rookie QB-WR combination in NFL history. They even went on to the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl, where Green had one touchdown catch and Dalton threw two touchdown passes.

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The Bengals have issues to address in the offseason and during the 2012 NFL Draft, but the success of their top 2011 rookies has given many fans hope for the future.