The Jackson Factor – Part III: Epilogue and McCarron

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Oct 19, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) kisses his girlfriend Katherine Webb following their 52-0 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for McCarron, whose upcoming marriage to Katherine Webb is being documented for a reality TV show, there are several players currently on the roster who remember the disastrous 2010 season marred by the T.Ocho levels of entitlement encapsulated on that roster.  The Bengals have come a long way in reconstituting their locker room, and winning the respect of which will be more central to McCarron than any game time statistics.

Most importantly, Coach Jackson understands this.  Because he was a fifth round pick, McCarron could fade away completely without much lost by Cincinnati; he is a prospective commodity.  While he has seen college championship success and has national high school awards to his name, so did Tim Tebow.   Granted, McCarron is a turnkey product, but with arm strength comparable to Dalton at TCU, the ‘upgrade’ simply is not there this season.

However, two things will factor critically into McCarron’s future.  The first one he has no control over: the abilities of Andy Dalton.  If Dalton wins a play-off game this year, McCarron will continue on the bench for the foreseeable future.  If Dalton struggles in a fourth play-off appearance (or worse), both he and Head Coach Marvin Lewis are likely sitting on some very hot cushions.  This leads to the second factor, McCarron’s relationship with the team and Coach Jackson which will be critically developed this year.  Whether or not his confidence has been wrongfully interpreted as cockiness is immaterial.  Without the status afforded to a starting quarterback, McCarron must be seen as a leader and not whiner or entitlement starved rookie in the eyes of Bengals locker room as well as the coaching staff should he desire ascension in Cincinnati.  Without question, this will be the most challenging aspect of his game to develop.