Andy Dalton Set To Rock The AFC North

The 2015 season was a roller coaster of emotions for the Cincinnati Bengals. After rolling to an 8-0 start, they wowed doubters and picked up more than a few fans along the way. The year seemed to be on an uphill curve, until Week 14. Andy Dalton suffered a thumb injury. The offense struggled at times and he was definitely missed. As the 2016 campaign gets underway, a healthy Dalton is ready to rock and roll. He’s embracing the new system and getting set for success.

The Bengals’ season came to a crashing halt when they lost the January 9 Wild Card game. A.J. McCarron led the Bengals into battle, but the Pittsburgh Steelers came away with the victory. The offense was adequate without Dalton, but it was not the fluid machine fans were used to seeing.

OTAs and minicamp have come and gone and Dalton is healthy and zipping the ball to his receivers. He’s looking better than ever and turning heads. Unfortunately, part of Dalton’s comeback story is no longer around. Hue Jackson is now basking on the shores of Lake Erie. Bengals backers are ready for new Andy to stick around. What’s their biggest fear? Bad Andy showing up and crashing the party.

Ken Zampese will be calling the offensive shots this year. Bengals fans have nothing to fear, but they’ve seen this scenario before. With change comes caution and apprehension. The Red Rifle has confidence in both his relationship with Zampese and the new scheme.

Dalton Rocks [Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images]“Zamp’s personality is a little different than Hue,” Dalton offered, via Cincy Jungle.

“The offense as a whole, and schematically, is going to take on what he likes.”

Dalton realizes that there will be subtle changes. He’s been using the same scheme since becoming the starter in 2011. The only thing that has changed is the coach calling the plays. Each coordinator has added a personal touch to the soup, but, the overall style and body of the playbook is still intact.

There are some things that will remain the same and some will get tossed to the back burner. Essentially, Zampese will be calling plays that will benefit his pupil. Zampese has been the Bengals quarterbacks coach since Marvin Lewis became head coach.

The Orange and Black attack will be as good or better than last year. According to the Steelers Depot, the Bengals offense is in good hands under Zampese. Cincinnati faithful can breathe a sigh of relief or scratch their heads in wonderment. Having the backing of an AFC North rival — through a writer’s opinion — is a true honor.

Dalton Rocks [Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]It’s easy to forget that Zampese has played a huge part in the development of every Bengals quarterback. When Carson Palmer was under center, his development was under the watchful eyes of Zampese. When Jon Kitna was named Comeback Player of the Year, he was pushed by Zampese. Dalton will be the recipient of a coaching pedigree that spans past Zampese, to his father Ernie.

The Greatest Show on Turf could be making a reappearance in the Queen City. Dalton has the tools and the athletic ability. His skillset could easily make it possible.

“For the most part, the new guys are starting to pick up on how we’ve done things for a while,” Dalton explained.

“It’s been a good smooth transition. I’m happy for Zamp that he’s in this position. As time goes on, we’ll continue to get better and understand more, but we’re in a good place now.”

Fans are expecting Dalton to match or exceed his totals from 2015. As the season progresses, there will be a few hiccups in the way the Dalton-Zampese train chugs along, but, the bottom line is evident. Dalton is back and he’s confident about the changes. It’s time to rock the North.

[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]