The first installment of this series of articles touched upon the coaching of first year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. One of the reasons for his success was the development of quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton was thrown into the fire week 1 and the offense was built around the young quarterback as he developed. Below, I will discuss some aspects of Dalton’s game last season that look to be favorable for the quarterback headed into the Bengals 2012 campaign.
Andy Dalton had a phenomenal rookie season. His official stats from the 2011 season are 300 completions from 516 attempts for 3,398 yards passing, 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 80.4. Aside from that, Dalton had been surprisingly mobile, being able to get away from the pass rush, roll out of the pocket, or scramble for first downs. He had a solid offensive line, but his mobility was one of the largest contributors to Dalton only being sacked 24 times in 2011.
The TCU product surpassed the expectations that were put in front of him as a second round selection and became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 20 touchdowns and lead his team to a winning record and a playoff birth. The biggest factor for Dalton’s success is that he is not careless with the football. His 13 interceptions this past season can be attributed some to rookie error, and some to inexperienced wide receivers that weren’t quite on the same page (see: Simpson, Jerome). Dalton has already said that one of his main focuses going into the new season is improving his deep ball by working on his footwork.