During the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday, Marvin Lewis backed up his young quarterback saying that he gets a lot of unfair judgement from the media and he just needs to keep doing what he has been doing.
"Andy just needs to keep being Andy," said Lewis. He added: "He just needs to keep playing and doing his thing. It's not his fault."
Lewis did jokingly say that one of the biggest things Dalton needs to do is quit listening to the media about his struggles and staying away Twitter would be good as well.
When he was asked why fans have placed a lot of blame for the teams inconsistent offense on Dalton, Lewis said, "Because they look at some dumbass website."
Both Dalton and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga were named team captains in 2012 by Lewis and the team's other coaches. Lewis said that one of the problems that both of them may face is the fact that they're a little too nice.
"We're looking for our quarterback and our middle linebacker to take hold of our football team. I think both guys are such good people, that you got to be a little bit of a dick."
Dalton finished the 2012 season completing 329 of 528 passes for 3,669 yards, 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for a passer rating of 87.4. While there were quarterbacks with better seasons, Dalton's performance in 2012 was right on par with Joe Flacco's first couple seasons in the league. Flacco was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII. Flacco has also never thrown for more than 25 touchdowns in a regular season.
While Dalton has struggled to move the ball through the air at times in the 2012 season, he also had a stretch of games in which he threw for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions along with 639 yards. He also led the team on a 7-1 stretch through the last half of the season which landed the Bengals in the playoffs with a 10-6 record. The loss of No. 2 receiver Mohamed Sanu in Week 12 seemed to slow his progress some though.
Dalton's third year in the league will be very telling. The young-quarterback factor will no longer apply to him as he and the offense look to make the playoffs for the third straight year, something the Bengals have never done in franchise history. If Dalton plays an entire season at his best, he can take the Bengals all the way to the Super Bowl. The NFL is a passing league and teams that win are able to move the ball through the air. The last 10 Super Bowl champions had solid passing games, or at least they did when it mattered.
The Bengals will only go as far as Dalton can take them. He has the potential to take them all the way. Whether he will or not remains to be seen.