It's been said over and over again: what fellow 2011 rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green accomplished last season was nothing short of miraculous. Not only did both players put up Pro Bowl seasons, they did so without the benefit of a full offseason with a full slate of practices. That's not the case this year, and many are predicting big things for the second-year players.
One of the perks of having a talented team coupled with a talented coaching staff is being able to go against some of the league's best day in and day out. In the last two weeks' OTA sessions, Dalton is getting all that he can handle from defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and his defensive unit. According to Paul Dehner, Jr. of CBSSports, Zimmer threw everything but the kitchen sink at Dalton in practices, which usually is a stark contrast to what teams attempt to do in these early OTA sessions.The neat thing about Zimmer employing this coaching technique is that it not only gives him an idea as to which defensive players are up to the challenge of digesting complicated schemes, but it also gives the offense some experience against multiple formations. In a division that pits the Bengals against two defensive juggernauts in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, this is a great learning experience for the second-year quarterback. The Browns defense may not be as complex at the Ravens' or Steelers', but they are nothing to scoff at either, as they finished 2011 with a top-ten overall ranking.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is keen on the idea of his young quarterback being challenged:
"The more times he gets to see these same looks and different looks he's going to get from coach Zimmer, the better he's going to be and the better schooled he's going to be," OC Jay Gruden said.
We've heard many stories of marquee offensive and defensive players matched up against each other in practice, thus making them better players in turn. It seems as if the Bengals' staff is employing a more all-encompassing approach and let's hope that Dalton soaks in the learning experience for 2012.