Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was a guest on Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio on Wednesday.
With the Bengals being 6-0 heading into their bye week, the Bengals one of the most popular teams in any sport right now, but they're trying to keep as grounded as possible as they look to get back to the playoffs and finally make a deep postseason run.
When asked what the biggest difference has been this year with him and the offense, Dalton pointed out how health and having all of his weapons on the field at the same time are what's making this offense great.
"We've got all our guys back and we're able to spread the ball around," Dalton said. "I think that's the biggest thing. We're playing with a lot of confidence. Guys are making plays, and it's shown by the way we've been winning these games."
Dalton admitted that his leadership abilities have grown over time as he's been put in more situations where his leadership has been tested. He believes the weapons on the Bengals' offense are responding to him better because of it.
"I feel like as time goes, you're going continue to grow as a leader with the experience that you have," Dalton said. "I feel like I'm in complete control of not only this offense, but this team. I feel like guys are responding well to what we're doing and how I'm pushing everybody. It's not just me. We've got a lot of leadership on this team, which has been great, and guys are responding really well."
As for the MVP talk and high praise he's gotten, Dalton is taking it all in stride and focusing more on the task at hand, winning the next game. However, he does hope the MVP talk is still going on at the end of the year, not because he wants it, but because it means his team is still winning.
"I'm not worried about that right now," Dalton said. "Obviously you like that people are talking good about you, but it's still early on in this season. We've still got a lot of games to be played and a lot to be determined. Hopefully, they'll be saying that at the end of the year, but as long as we're winning games, we've put ourselves in a good spot."
Dalton has been playing far beyond the level we grew accustomed to seeing from him in his first four years in the NFL. A few weeks ago, Hue Jackson suggested it had to with being booed at the MLB All Star Celebrity Softball Game this summer. Florio brought up that point in his interview and Dalton didn't deny it, and hinted that the support he has started getting from around Cincinnati may be helping him play at such a high level this season.
"I wouldn’t say that that’s something that, you know, that’s the reason why I’ve decided I’m gonna you know play better on this team and this team is going to play better," Dalton said. "I wouldn’t say any of that. Obviously, you never want anything like that to happen, especially when you’re in your home city. But I think the boos, it wasn’t everybody. There were some people that did it and, obviously, that made the headline. But since then, I’ve received so much support from everybody in this city. I mean to say that pushed me. Yeah, you never want that to happen but that’s not the sole reason why we’ve had success so far."
Another big reason the Bengals are 6-0 is because they've avoided injuries to key players, something that's plagued them seemingly every year with Dalton at the helm. Dalton knows having his teammates healthy is keeping this offense rolling, but they'll have to be prepared when injuries do start knocking guys out of the lineup.
"A lot of it's just good luck. A lot of guys have worked hard and physically put themselves in position to withstand things," Dalton said. "But everybody knows the nature of this game, and football injuries are going to happen at some point. Some teams it happens a lot, and some teams they don't, so hopefully we can keep everybody going."
As for the rest of the season, Dalton isn't looking too far ahead. His task is focusing on the next opponent and keeping that mentality for all 17 weeks of the regular season.
"Our whole focus is that one game at a time mentality," Dalton said. "That's how it has to be. That's how we've been doing it up to this point, and it's been working really well. Obviously the goal is to get back to the postseason and win in the postseason and to win the Super Bowl. That's everybody's goal. We feel like if we keep doing what we've been doing, that's going to put us in a really good position."