Bengals' Reasons For Optimism In 2012: Andy Dalton

August 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

When Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had a pedestrian performance in the first game of 2012, fans were alarmed. Dalton's four for nine performance wasn't all his fault though, as there were two drops in the game--one would had been a touchdown to A.J. Green. What is the thing that you want to see from game to game in the preseason? Improvement. And we saw that with Dalton on Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

Dalton was borderline cocky last night--which is a sight for sore eyes from those who witnessed the final years of the Carson Palmer era. When Dalton scrambled around feeling pressure in the pocket (which was quite often), it almost resembled backyard football. Maybe Dalton's looseness can be attributed to the simple fact that it was preseason. Maybe it could be attributed to the fact that Dalton is more comfortable in his second year as a starting NFL quarterback. Maybe it was a little bit of both.

Regardless, we saw Dalton evade consistent pressure to make plays on the run and give us all some exciting plays. He ended the night 8 for 14 with 125 yards and the 50-yard touchdown bomb to Green. Though is wasn't without a couple of errant throws, it was an efficient night for Dalton, who has yet to turn the ball over this preseason and still continues his trend of making smart decisions with throwing the ball away if nothing is there.

Dalton was only 33 percent on deep ball conversions, but as the night would have it, the lone conversion and biggest play of the night was the difference in the game. It was also Dalton's, er, "brass", that gave him the confidence to continue to throw the deep ball to his favorite target. After the first two throws were under thrown and overthrown, respectively, this "brass" gave Dalton the confidence to rear back and toss the highlight reel 50-yarder to Green. It's this confidence that the Bengals need out of their young quarterback to build off of their strong 2011 campaign.

It's Dalton's ability to shrug off mistakes, coupled with his overall talent, that makes him different from every other quarterback that the team has had since one Norman Julius Esiason. He's proved it this offseason.

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