Dalton: 'I Expect To Be Better This Year'

Andy Lyons

The Bengals went into the 2013 draft with one major theme for the first two rounds: surround quarterback Andy Dalton with more playmakers. Dalton has since responded by vowing to be even better in the coming season.

With today's big announcement of the release of Tim Tebow, we are reminded of the simple fact that no matter how bad things may seem at times for the Bengals, at least they aren't Jets.

Case in point, the Tebow situation. Or more accurately, the systematic mishandling of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Regardless of how you feel about the guy, Sanchez quarterbacked the Jets to back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship game during his first two years in the league. And how did the Jets repay him for his help in returning their franchise back to relevancy? They abandoned their running game starting in 2011, failed to surround Sanchez with adequate weapons in the passing game, and topped it all off by acquiring media darling Tim Tebow. In such a toxic and dysfunctional environment, it's no small wonder that Sanchez began to wilt under the pressure of the New York media.

Comparing franchises, the Bengals' handling of quarterback Andy Dalton seems to be the antithesis of how the Jets handled Sanchez. Whereas Sanchez gave the Jets more (losses in the Conference Championship round) early on in his career, they responded by reducing the overall level of talent around him. Conversely, Dalton gave the Bengals less (losses in the Wild Card round) and so far Marvin Lewis and co. have responded by surrounding him with more weapons.

Easy to see which strategy is more likely to work out.

For his part, Dalton recognizes the extra effort the Bengals are putting into giving him more playmakers. In an interview with Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Dalton acknowledged that it's up to him now to put all the new pieces together on the field.

"Well, there shouldn't be any excuses," Dalton said after his Monday workout. "The players we already have and adding these guys is just going to make the offense better. So I expect us to take the next step, I expect us to improve from where we were last year. Time will tell, but we've got the right attitude going in and the way we've been working, I don't expect any less."

Last year, the Bengals went out and signed short yardage expert and bellcow running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis and drafted a pair of talented receivers in Mohamad Sanu and Marvin Jones. So far in 2013, the Bengals have continued this trend, snagging another first-round tight end in Tyler Eifert for Dalton, as well as a speedy, change-of-pace running back in Giovani Bernard. More importantly, however, the Bengals have continually insisted that Dalton is their guy and have also set aside $10 million in cap space to roll over to help retain both him and A.J. Green.

These are the kind of moves that the Jets failed to make for Sanchez, and we've already seen how that turned out.

Dalton is entering his third year with the team, and while some may consider this to be a make-it-or-break-it kind of year for the young quarterback, the Bengals, for their part, are all in on Dalton.

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