Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been viewed by many as a player who may be holding the offense back. His mediocre play, particularly in the postseason, has been disheartening for fans and the franchise, but offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is confident the best is yet to come.
Speaking at the team’s media luncheon on Tuesday before the start of camp, Jackson talked up his quarterback, via Bengals.com:
“I’m not concerned with Andy as much as everybody else is…I’m totally behind him 100 percent, and I think he’s going to have a great year—not a good year, a great year,” Jackson said.
So confident in Dalton’s abilities as a passer is Jackson that he plans on opening up the playbook to take full advantage of the team’s many offensive weapons.
“We’re going to open Pandora’s box more,” Jackson said. “We tickled it a little bit last year. We’re going to open it up a little bit more this year and be who I think we can be…But I tell you what, the defenses are so good, the defensive players are so good and they disguise all the time, why can’t we? It’s a chess match, and whoever is not afraid to pull the trigger, pull the trigger. And I’m not afraid, so let’s go.”
It remains to be seen if Dalton has the fearless quality it takes to “pull the trigger.” Based off his playoff performances, many will surely hold the belief that he’s incapable of playing the part of a fearless gun-slinger within Jackson’s open-it-up offense.
Through four years with the Bengals, Dalton has proven himself to be a (slightly) better-than-average regular season quarterback and a bubbling puddle of putrescence in the playoffs.
Here’s a quick look at just how putrid he’s been in four playoff games, all losses:
- 88 completions on 158 attempts (55.7 percent) for 873 yards (5.5 yards per attempt)
- 1 touchdown and 6 interceptions
- 57.8 passer rating
- 4 fumbles, 10 total turnovers
In every possible way, Dalton has shrunk down to a lesser version of himself when Cincinnati needed him the most.
As a means to attempt resuscitation on the young man’s confidence, the franchise has issued a full-court press of positive messages in the media. All offseason we’ve heard owner Mike Brown, head coach Marvin Lewis and now Jackson pumping him up by talking him up.
They’re all tremendously confident in him—that’s the message that’s being shouted from the rooftops.
But one has to believe the talks inside the building—inside Mr. Brown’s office—are significantly more frank.
AJ McCarron was a steal this past draft, as Cincinnati was able to land him in Rd. 5 out of Alabama. No stranger to pressure, and the rising above it, is McCarron, who won two national championships and played extremely well in those games. He’s also not afraid to take shots down the field, possessing that gun-slinger’s mentality.
The Bengals should make the playoffs for the fifth straight year, thanks to a loaded roster and the fact that there aren’t many truly great teams in the AFC.
If they do earn a playoff spot, and if Dalton once again withers under the bright lights, then nobody should be surprised if McCarron is given a legitimate shot to earn the starting role in 2016. Cincinnati will also likely draft another quarterback in the first three rounds in this scenario.
Despite all the glowing praise heaped on at this time, Dalton’s days are surely numbered if he doesn’t take a big leap forward in 2015.
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