As training camp rolls on, the Bengals continue to work on a new deal for quarterback Andy Dalton. Though questions surround him as to whether he can guide the Bengals to a playoff run remain, new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is truly committed to Dalton as his guy.
That said, he's equally as committed to forcing Dalron to improve his weaknesses and avoid the errors that have plagued him to this point in his career.
Recalls: Dalton "The first thing he said was, 'You're my guy. We're gonna do this thing together. You're the guy that's gonna take us to where we want to go.' It's exactly what I wanted to hear, and exactly what this team needs. You want to know, from the top down, that they've got your back."
In the same conversation, Jackson told Dalton that "things will be different. We have to be better. And I'm going to coach you hard. If you'll allow me to push you, we can get to where we both want to go." Dalton, the coach recalls, "was receptive. He didn't even blink. He said, 'Coach, let's go.' I'm very proud of the fact that he's allowing me to coach him. He wants to be great."
One of the biggest weaknesses of Dalton to this point has been his lack of vocal leadership. He doesn't command the offense in the way Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Philip Rivers do. Though Dalton may never have the talent of those three, he can still become a stronger vocal leader, and that's what Hue wants from him.
"Way to be decisive, get it out of your hand and complete it to our guy," said Jackson. "I like how you made the call, but I still think, to a man, we need to be louder, more demonstrative. Because we play in some loud stadiums.
"Get out of the 'street voice' you practice for Noah (Dalton's newborn son). You need to use your 'road voice.' Get it so loud, it's to the point where you're embarrassed."
In that same interview, Marvin Lewis admits Jackson's up-tempo offense can be very beneficial to Dalton.
"I think that maximizes a lot of Andy's abilities," Lewis says. "His anticipation on throws is one of his incredible skills and talents that he has innately. And if we speed things up, that really makes it effective."
The hurry-up offense can really help a QB like Dalton with a limited arm. That's what the Bengals are hoping in Year 4, when the improvements Dalton can make at this point are few and far between. We've seen what Dalton is, but the way his abilities are utilized is the one big improvement that can still be made.
For now, it looks like the Bengals are committed to doing just that.