So far in his young career, quarterback Andy Dalton has already achieved a number of milestones hitherto unheard of during the twenty-plus year drought of football success in Cincinnati. Dalton was selected to the pro bowl as a rookie in 2011, led the Bengals to the playoffs twice as a wild card team, and has even become the first quarterback in history to throw for at least twenty touchdowns in each of his first two seasons while also qualifying for the postseason.
Not a bad resume for the 25-year-old signal caller.
But after failing to win either of his two playoff games, Dalton knows that there is still a lot of room for improvement. In a conference call on Monday afternoon, Dalton was asked about what he can do to get better.
The biggest thing I can do is take more control. Whether it be on the practice field or during a game, whatever it is, I need to step up and really show my leadership. That will be big. The more you play, especially being a quarterback, the more you’re going to become a leader on the team. I could be more consistent on some of the down-field throws and things like that, but there’s a lot of things I can keep improving on.
Head coach Marvin Lewis called on both Dalton and LB Rey Maualuga to take more active leadership roles midway through the 2012 season, and it seems the lesson stuck with the third-year quarterback. Starting next week when the Bengals open up their offseason schedule with strength training workouts at Paul Brown Stadium, Dalton is ready to take control of the team and become the vocal leader that Carson Palmer never was.
Leadership, however, isn't enough to get over the playoff hump, and Dalton knows this Bengals team will also need an attitude adjustment come playoff time in 2013.
Once you get to the playoffs is when you have to be at your best. These past two years we haven’t been at our best when we’ve played in those games. We’ve got to take that next step. We’ve got to go in with an attitude that we’re going to do whatever it takes to win the game. Hopefully we get that chance this year.
Of course that is easier said than done. With a career postseason quarterback rating of only 48.6, Dalton and the rest of the Bengals still have a lot of work ahead of them.
Hopefully, with a larger leadership role and the bulk of his 2012 offensive starters back, Dalton will be ready to take that next step in his development as a franchise quarterback and lead the Bengals into January and beyond.