With each offseason in the young career of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, expectations rise. Though he's in elite company in terms of touchdown passes in his first two seasons in NFL history (third with 47 behind Peyton Manning and Dan Marino), fans want to see more. Criticism surrounding No.14 centers around his getting flustered when pressure breaks down and his streaky nature.
Still, you can't deny Dalton's 19 wins over the past two years, nor can you discredit him for spearheading a new era of NFL quarterbacks that have seen immediate success coming right out of college. Regardless, it's time for Dalton to take that next step in that critical third year, take this team by the the throat and truly make it his own.
We've written many pieces on what Dalton needs to work on, ranging from the deep ball to better pocket presence. It's debatable what the cure is to those problems--will experience take care of them, more practice, or will he be resigned to struggling with those aspects his entire career? We hope the first two take care of things. The good news is that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden likes what he's seen, in terms of progression this offseason. He also has noted a solid improvement from Dalton with his work on the deep ball.
We're now getting into the time of the offseason where words and light practices are fading into the rear view mirror and more intensive on-field work will truly prove what progress, if any, has been made. With some reports from today's post-practice media sessions, it seems as if Andy "dont call me 'The Red Rifle'" Dalton is making the strides that we're looking for.
Speaking to the media himself, Dalton told reporters that he'll be conducting workouts with wide receivers after the mandatory minicamp is finished and before Training Camp hits full swing. Though it's common practice with NFL quarterbacks, some of the best leaders in the league do the same thing and it's nice to see Dalton taking the initiative there.
Aside from that he's looking to become "the guy" in Cincinnati this year. Per Joe Danneman of FOX 19:
If you remember, head coach Marvin Lewis called out both Rey Maualuga and Dalton to become a...er...less likeable version of themselves, let's say, and take control of their respective units as leaders. Dalton responded well stringing together quite a few good games during a 7-1 finish to the year, propelling the Bengals to the playoffs.
Still we want more.
When Lewis wasn't answering questions about the disappointing situations surrounding Adam Jones and/or Andre Smith, he talked a little about Dalton.
If "the deer in the headlight look" has indeed been replaced by "the eye of the tiger" look, then the Cincinnati Bengals should be in for one heck of a 2013 season from their quarterback.