Andy Dalton is learning his third offensive voice. But, it’s a familiar sound.
The Bengals offseason was filled with rumors and speculation. The Million Dollar Question was centered on the return of Reggie Nelson. Eventually, that love affair ended, when Nelson signed with the Oakland Raiders. That set the tone for the next drama filled episode of As the Bengals Turn. What would happen to Andy Dalton, when Hue Jackson left? Simple. They would find a way to get in sync and win the AFC North.
Amid the moans and groans of the Bengals doubters, there’s also a subgroup of Dalton bashers. They love to compare the Red Rifle to the most convenient horrendous quarterback. Negativity was running rampant, as Andy’s thumb continued to heal. The departure of Jackson seemed to fuel the tanks of every hater unworthy of holding Dalton’s hair gel tube.
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The start of minicamp has helped put some of the uneasiness to rest. Mr. Dalton is looking like a prize thoroughbred, to his teammates and new offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. Brandon LaFell has even offered a comparison to one Tom Brady. Please refrain from shouting expletives at your computer screen. My job is to share the message with Bengals fans. Per Coley Harvey of ESPN, Dalton is mirroring the success of LaFell’s former gunslinger.
"“Everybody respects him just like everybody respects Brady. How Brady demanded the best out of everybody, Andy’s doing the same thing here. Both of those guys are smart guys. They always have the offense in the right play. They’re always getting the ball to the right person at the right time. They’re two different offenses, but both of those guys are winners.”"
It seems as if Dalton has taken up where he left off. He’s maintaining a presence and demanding perfection. With an attitude like that, it’s easy to see how the comparisons would take flight. Old Andy was buried in 2014. Dalton’s new persona seems to be sticking around for the long haul.
So far, Zampese has had nothing negative to say about his star pupil. But, it’s only minicamp. He does realize building a bond with Dalton is paramount.
“Oh, absolutely,” Zampese offered, per The Cincinnati Enquirer. “Relationships is where it all starts. So the farther along you are with that, the better off you’re going to be as you implement whatever you want to do.”
Dalton isn’t showing any signs of Jackson withdrawals. He doesn’t have to learn the mannerisms of a new coach. That helps immensely.
"“Zamp’s been my quarterback coach since I’ve been here. We already have that great relationship. I understand how he thinks and does things. For him, it’s the same thing for me. I’m not learning the new style of a guy. That makes things easier because we’ve been together for a while.”"
If Dalton can stay in sync with Zampese for 16 games, the Bengals may be looking at a first round bye.