Stop me if you've heard this before: an NFL offensive coordinator backs up his starting quarterback and believes that he can take them all the way. Such is the case with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and his man under center, Andy Dalton. In fact, one could call Gruden "super confident".
In speaking with media members on Thursday after the team's practice, Gruden praised Dalton's resume, mostly pointing at the third-year man's amount and quality of wins as a starter. See? There is such a thing as having quality AND quantity. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com has the bits from Gruden:
"He's beaten Brady, he's beaten Rodgers, he's beaten Roethlisberger, he's done it all. We just have to do it in the playoffs," Gruden said after Thursday's practice. "That’s to be determined. But even if something happens where there are turnovers or a bad referee call or something happens and we don't win the game, I don't think you can discount what he's done the last three years as a starting quarterback."
While Dalton has his long line of critics, both inside and outside of Bengaldom, his 29 wins in his first three years as a starter is one of the best in league history. He's also nipping at the team's single-season passing records for yards and touchdowns, set by his predecessor, Carson Palmer. As if that isn't enough, Dalton is also been a key factor of the team making the playoffs three straight years, which is an unprecedented feat in the franchise's history.
But, man, that 0-2 playoff record.
"It says something to me. It says something to the coaches, it says something to the people in here," Gruden said. "That’s all that matters. I don't know what it says to you guys (in the media) or the fans. If you're talking about winning 30 games as a starter in three years, that's an impressive stat. … We know what he's all about. As long as everybody in this room has faith in him, that’s the only thing we care about."
"It's exciting for both those guys," Gruden said (about the single-season records). "I think what's more important for them is to get the playoff stigma off them. No matter what they do, until they win a playoff game, they can still be criticized. The only way to stop the criticism for good is to win playoff games. And Super Bowls."
And that just may be the biggest difference between the 2005 Bengals and the 2013 Bengals--team success over individual achievements. A different mindset from previous Marvin Lewis squads will likely be the deciding factor in if this team can make some noise in the postseason tournament that begins in the new year. And though it sounds as if Gruden, Dalton's teammates and even fans might have the confidence in the quarterback to finally get it done this year, Dalton's play will be the element that will speak the loudest this postseason.