The West Coast offense that first-year NFL offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has attempted to install in Cincinnati will take time to settle in, just like the rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, who's running it. Dalton and the offense have struggled so far in the preseason, but luckily, it's the preseason. They still have two weeks and two practice games to get things right before they take the field in Cleveland on Sept. 11 when it does count.
Understandably, the passing game has been what the offense has struggled with the most. Dalton often looks uncomfortable in the pocket and wants to get rid of the ball as soon as he gets it. Who can blame him? He's playing against the biggest, fastest and meanest defensive line that he's ever faced and the offensive line that is protecting him isn't the greatest.
Gruden believes, though, that the offense's, and Dalton's, problems can be fixed with some patience from his rookie quarterback. He also believes that Dalton doesn't make many mistakes twice.
"When that timing gets rattled a little sometimes he still throws it instead of waiting another count or two," Gruden said. "He's always throwing it 1-2-3 and it has to be gone no matter what, and that happened on a couple plays. ... Most of the things he's done (wrong) are correctable with reps; they won't happen again. He doesn't make the same mistake often."
Dalton will have to learn to hang on to the ball for a little longer to find his receivers at the right times, especially on deeper routes. Throwing the ball too early can just end the play in an incompletion or an interception.
I can understand the feeling that you need to get rid of the ball as soon as possible because any second, some 400-pound gorilla of a defensive lineman named Anthrax is going to cave your skull in. However, Dalton will have to learn to ignore that feeling and be patient if he's going to be successful leading the Bengals offense.
This is the kind of thing that Dalton will learn with time and reps. I'm confident that he'll eventually get the hang of it, but I hope he gets the hang of it in the next two weeks.