Andy Dalton has grown into a franchise quarterback.
It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always certain that Dalton would become the kind of guy you’d build an NFL team around. But Dalton’s tireless work ethic and dedication to the game he loves have helped him improve every year in the pros.
While it doesn’t always show up in box scores, Dalton has improved some facet of his game every year, and part of that is due to his continued offseason training with various quarterback gurus. For the past several years, Dalton has been working with renowned quarterback maestro Tom House and one of his co-workers Adam Dedeaux, who, like House, is a former pro baseball pitcher now tutoring NFL quarterbacks. House and Dedeaux were at Cincinnati Bengals OTAs on Tuesday, working with Dalton.
Additionally, Dedeaux visited Dalton in his hometown of Dallas last month and expects to see him one more time before training camp starts the last week in July. Dedeaux likes what he’s seen of the Bengals passer this offseason and had high praise for Dalton.
“He was throwing the ball as well, if not better, than he ever has,” Dedeaux said of the Dallas trip, via Bengals.com. “Right now he’s in the prime of his career. I just wanted to see him with more variables and more randomness going on, making sure he’s staying true to form and he is, he looks great.”
Entering his seventh season in the NFL, Dalton knows what he has to work on, and that includes arm strength, a faster release and continual footwork improvements.
“We’re just looking for that one percent of what we’re always working on, but one percent better every time,” Dedeaux said. “Arm strength. Getting rid of the ball faster. Good feet. Sound mechanics. Similar themes, just taking it to the next level.”
One of the many aspects of Dalton’s game that’s improved during his career is his arm strength and deep-ball accuracy, which was undoubtedly aided by House and Dedeaux.
“His arm is as strong as ever right now,” Dedeaux said. “The jump from two years ago to last year, we’ve seen a pretty big jump in his arm strength. We test for velocity, and test for distance and I think he’s even probably surprised himself sometimes. For every one mile an hour he can be pretty close to a yard.”
In each of Dalton’s first four seasons, his yards per attempt average was no higher than 7.33 and was below 7.06 three times. In the past two years, Dalton has finished with averages of 8.42 and 7.47.
That same stretch has seen Dalton throw just 15 total interceptions after averaging 16.5 per year during his first four seasons. These improvements show just how much hard work and commitment to one’s craft can lead to improvements, even when a player is supposedly in the part of his career where his maximum growth has been reached.
We’ve seen guys like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning improve their games well into their careers, and all of them have had their best statistical seasons in Year 10 or later.
Dalton may not have the same Hall of Fame ability as them, but he certainly has the same level of commitment to his craft, so there’s no reason to think he won’t keep making improvements to various parts of his game this year and in future seasons.