CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 02: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs for a touchdown during the NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
When the Bengals selected Andy Dalton in the second round of last year's NFL draft, they envisioned him as the long-term quarterback bringing this team's future forward. Little did any of us know, Dalton quickly acclimated himself as the leader from the beginning. Despite the chaotic mess with the Carson Palmer debacle and the player lockout, Dalton provided an immediate impact on the field for the Bengals that made everyone go 'Carson who?'
Despite not having a typical offseason to work with coaches, trainers, and teammates last year, Dalton came out firing on all cylinders as he helped guide the Bengals to the playoffs. At times Dalton looked like a ten-year veteran, while there were other moments where he showed glimpses of being a true rookie.
With the magic and hysteria from last season now in the rear view mirror, Dalton and the Bengals can focus here-and-now. This offseason will be different for Dalton having an opportunity to get to work with the coaching staff and train with teammates.
"I think just for us to get in here and have this time during the offseason to get work, get throwing, is definitely going to make us better," Dalton said. "For us to spend time together in the film room, the little things that we didn't get to do last year."
During a solid rookie campaign posting 20 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions, Dalton is aware that he needs to improve, more specifically his deep passing and footwork, in order to become a better all-around quarterback.
"I think the biggest thing is I was just kind of watching my footwork and things like that, cleaning up my drops and stuff like that," he said. "I think I struggled a little bit last year with my deep ball. I've been working on that. Hopefully that will improve this year and I'll work with these guys and we'll get it going."
But when taking a more in-depth look at Dalton and his deep passing game, it can be noted that he did an adequate job in that department. During his regular season Dalton completed 10 passes for 40 or more yards, tied for 8th in the league, which is more than quarterbacks from division rivals like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. Additionally Dalton completed 48 passes for 20 or more yards, ranked 12th in the league and more than Baltimore's Joe Flacco.
While those are solid numbers for a rookie, Dalton still believes there's room for improvement. Completing more deep passes will prove to be beneficial for the Bengals offense in 2012. The completion of a long pass in a certain situation could make or break a game for Cincinnati.