The University of Alabama hasn't produce a starting quarterback who’s won an NFL game since 1987. That doesn't concern AJ McCarron, the man who will be leading the Cincinnati Bengals this week against the San Francisco 49ers and likely, for the rest of the regular season.
"Alabama's Alabama," McCarron said on Wednesday is his press conference. "The Cincinnati Bengals; that's why I'm here now. I'm worried about winning this game for the North championship. That's my number one priority. I'm worried about these guys. As for the history: that's history, so I'm not worried about that."
McCarron has been working hard to prepare for his new starting role. "I want to show the guys that they can depend on me, that I'm here and I'm ready to play," he said, also stating that he has been at the stadium a ton this week. One report said on Tuesday during the team's offday, he was at the stadium from 9 a.m. to after 6 p.m. and that many of the Bengals' receivers joined him throughout the day for film study.
What everyone is hopeful for, McCarron included, is the chemistry being built between the "AJs", A.J. Green and McCarron. The duo connected a few times on Sunday, including a 66-yard touchdown bomb.
"I think it's just him knowing where he needs to be and me knowing where he's going to be. I don't see any problems," McCarron said of his chemistry with Green. "I feel like all year long, we've had good chemistry when I've been thrown in, whether it's in practice or in the games. I'm excited about the challenge."
As a backup for the first 14 weeks of the season, McCarron's job was to go against the Bengals' defense in practice and replicate the opposing team's offense for that week. "Going against our defense is always a challenge, and when they give you praise, you kind of take it and run before they change their mind (laughs)," McCarron said. "Going against our defense all year long has been an awesome challenge for not only myself but all the scout team guys. I try to preach that to them every day, just tell them, 'This is a challenge for us. We don't get a Sunday challenge during our time. This is our challenge to go against our number one defense, who is one of the best defenses in the NFL, and to really push ourselves day in and day out.' It feels really good when they come to you like, 'Man, you're on fire today' or any compliment you can get."
McCarron also spoke about his first game at Alabama, during which he threw two interceptions (as he did on Sunday against the Steelers), but won. "It was just an unreal experience, kind of like Sunday was. I guess in college I knew I was about to play and I was trying to make sure I wasn't too cold or too hot, didn't have too much on or not enough, so it was a little different than being thrown in there. It was just a great experience and it led to some fun times."
One of the most important traits in an NFL quarterback is the ability to lead and McCarron says he leads with passion.
"I think you can lead by all different ways. Mine, I just feel like I always play the game with passion. I try to get everybody else to show a side of them they might not want to show or might not show all the time. Show a little excitement, do a little crazy dance, do something."
When Green punted McCarron's first NFL touchdown ball into the stands, that was a result of McCarron telling him to show some passion just moments before. "I wish I had taken that back (laughs), but that's the way I've always played.
"Brett Favre is my favorite quarterback of all time. It's not just because of all his decision-making, but the way he played the game. It always looked like he was that four-year-old kid that just won the starting job by raising his right hand and his left hand, and getting it correct and being the only one. That's what I love about the game, because it's a game. Yes we get paid a great amount and it's a blessing, but at the end of the day, it's a game, and you have to play it like you're a kid in the backyard just having fun."