It is no secret that Tony Dungy knows what it takes to create a winning team. He had the perfect formula for seven years with the Indianapolis Colts with Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and, later, Reggie Wayne. In those seven years the Colts never lost more than six games in a season and won the Super Bowl in 2006. The key to that Super Bowl run was, without a doubt, Manning and Wayne and the consistent production that they had on the field. If the Colts did not have Manning that year, how good would they have been? Well, we got a glimpse of that this past year, and if anything, the 2011 season showed exactly how much of a difference having Manning at quarterback made for the Colts.
In spite of the fact that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Bengals offense and that many writers and analysts predicted just a few wins at most for the team, they were able to pull off a playoff run and exceed every expectation that anybody had for their season. The bedrock of the Bengals' offensive success this year was found in two rookies: A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Dungy knows quarterbacks and he knows wide receivers and he knows that Dalton and Green have what it takes to be successful for a long time in this league.
Although Dungy agrees that Dalton doesn't have Manning's size (Manning is 6-5, 230 and Dalton is 6-2, 215) or his arm strengh (this is certainly a debatable issue), he has the necessary tools to win in the NFL.
"He's definitely legit," Dungy said during Super Bowl Media Day for players and broadcasters. "He's smart and accurate. The game wasn't too big for him and that's what you look for."
Dalton certainly has plenty of smarts, very good accuracy, and is a leader, which makes him a better starting quarterback than some in the NFL. One of his biggest advantage over other quarterbacks, though, is other quarterbacks don't have Adriel Jeremiah Green.
"I love A.J. Green; he looks like a big Marvin Harrison to me," Dungy said. "He's got the same wiry frame, he's got the same deceptive speed, and he's got all the hand-eye coordination and the skill Marvin had. But he's big."
This is high praise coming from Dungy because Marvin Harrison is one of the best wide receivers in the history of the NFL and the Manning-to-Harrison combo is the most prolific in NFL history (953 rec, 12,756 yds, 112 TD's). The difference between Harrison and Green comes in the last sentence of Dungy's statement, "But he's big." Green is 4 inches taller and 33 pounds heavier than Harrison and in the NFL, that's a big difference. However, as much of a compliment Dungy's statement is to Green, with all due respect to Dungy and Harrison, many have stated that Green is unlike any other wide receiver currently in the league. Obviously this is not to say that Green is the best wide receiver ever, or even in the NFL currently (Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Greg Jennings come to mind right away), but there is no reason that he couldn't be with a few more years of experience under his belt.
If Dalton and Green keep up their production and avoid a "sophomore slump," they will have the opportunity, because they surely have the ability, to surpass every expectation of how successful they can be, no matter how lofty.