It's make-or-break time for Andy Dalton as he heads into a contract year with the Cincinnati Bengals. He knows it, and he's spent the offseason working his tail off to improve a much as he possibly can heading into the 2014 season.
Dalton was worked with guru tutor Tom House this offseason, who's worked with the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Carson Palmer among others over his career.
Now that the Bengals have began offseason training activities, Mohamed Sanu is very impressed with what he's seen of Dalton in OTAs, according to Geoff Hobson.
"Best I've seen him," Sanu said Wednesday. "I think it's everything. That guy helped. He's put a lot of work in the offseason, just seeing how he approaches it....it's on you fast. You turn around and you're like, ‘whoa.'"
Marvin Jones echoed those sentiments.
"He's got a lot of zing, a lot of velocity to him," Jones said. "Especially when it matches the intensity with the way we run our routes. We run our plays in different periods and it just brings everybody up, him included. He's spinning the ball real nice."
"When you have a goal you want to get, where you want to get as a team, everything elevates. This offseason we want to get to the ship….everybody’s intensity running and working out and throwing is all heightened. We know what we’ve got. We know where we’re going to go."
This is a good sign, but we won;t know if Dalton has truly improved as an NFL QB until the pads come on during training camp and into the preseason.
The one thing Dalton doesn't get enough credit for is the fact that he's improved each year as the Bengals' signal-caller.
Pro Football Focus gave Dalton a -7.3 grade as rookie, which made him 22nd out of 30 QBs who played in at least 50% of their team's snaps.
In 2012, that grade jumped to -1.0, ranking him 20th out of 27 eligible QBs. Dalton improved to a 4.8 grade in 2013, 15th out 28 eligible QBs. Also, his highest single-game grade in his first two seasons was a 4.7. In '13, he had games of 5.7 (Jets), 6.1 (Colts) and 7.2 (Vikings).
Though the improvements were never huge, he's clearly improved on the field and in terms of advanced analytics.
Once the season begins, we'll know if Dalton has improved any pretty quickly with a trip to Baltimore to face the Ravens, where Dalton has never won and is 2-7 on the road vs. AFC North teams.