The starting quarterback is often the most important player on an NFL team.
The Bengals learned that the hard way last season. A thumb injury in Week 14 sidelined Andy Dalton for the final four games, including a narrow playoffs loss to Pittsburgh. It was against those very Steelers that Dalton was injured, but really, Dalton was more at fault than anyone else for trying to tackle Stephon Tuitt.
That's why the Bengals are making sure Dalton knows not to make that mistake again. Bengals cornerback Adam Jones was a guest on Pro Football Talk Live Thursday morning, where he stressed how Dalton has to get back whenever there is a turnover.
“Oh yeah. We’ve made that clear here,” Jones said. “Whatever happens, he needs to run his ass back to the sidelines.”
Jones has great respect for Dalton and does not want to see him lose any more playing time like he did in 2015, especially in the midst of a career year.
“If you go back and look at what he was doing before he hurt his hand, if he’s not the top, he’s at least in the top three,” Jones said in regards to Dalton being among the NFL’s best quarterbacks last year.
As Jones said, you can argue where Dalton ranks in the NFL hierarchy, but he was having as good of a 2015 season as any quarterback. Dalton completed 255 of his 386 passes for 3,250 yards and 25 scores vs seven picks. He helped the Bengals jump out to a 10-2 start before going down with his broken thumb.
Dalton also had the NFL's eighth-best completion percentage, second-best yards-per-attempt average, second-highest passer rating and fifth-best QBR.
But it’s the leadership that Jones said Dalton has made a lot of progress at in recent years.
“He’s stepped up tremendously man,” Jones said. “Leadership. He’s got the guys in here; he makes sure they’re in the right spot. He’s not careless with the ball. That’s the biggest thing. If it’s not there, throw it away or check it down. He’s done a great job.”
Jones also talked about a number of other topics, but wouldn’t respond to Mike Florio’s questioning of his opinion on the Joey Porter Rule. He instead just said, “no comment”, a rarity for Jones.
Be sure to listen to the full interview, which begins at the 19:10 mark.