As a nine-year veteran, Andy Dalton never had to worry about his job before Zac Taylor came to Cincinnati. The Bengals have been building around Dalton for the better part of a decade and it all came crashing down in an 0-8 start to Taylor’s first season as head coach. And for the first time in his career, Dalton paid for the losing.
Taylor announced that Dalton would be benched for rookie Ryan Finley and his future in Cincinnati looked bleak at best. The 32-year old Dalton didn’t hide his initial disapproval of Taylor’s decision, and three weeks later, Taylor soon realized he was better off with Dalton out there instead of Finley.
The decision to bring Dalton back off the bench was validated instantly in the form of the Bengals’ first win of the season over the Jets. Dalton’s 8.75 adjusted yards per attempt from the first half were all the offense needed to stay in front of the lifeless Jets for the remainder of the game, and two quarters later, a gatorade shower was bestowed upon Taylor’s backside.
Right after the game, Dalton talked with CBS commentators Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta about his first game back and what this means for him and Taylor.
Andy Dalton was happy to get Zac Taylor his first victory as Head Coach of the @Bengals. pic.twitter.com/Zcaxgx7Xna— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) December 1, 2019
Moments later inside the Bengals locker room, Dalton received the game ball from Taylor and gave a game ball right back to Taylor in congratulations on his first win as a head coach.
Sweet Victory!— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 1, 2019
Game for @andydalton14 & Coach Taylor. pic.twitter.com/zCzwKcYLp6
The partnership between Dalton and Taylor may not last beyond this year, and it certainly hit a road bump just a few weeks back, but it was heartwarming to see Dalton and the Bengals rally behind their first-year head coach after the first win of his head coaching career.
Winning is required when establishing a winning culture. One win may not mean much, but this can what sparks the kind of culture Taylor wants to establish in Cincinnati for the long-term.