Bengals Training Camp: Andy Dalton In A Good Place

When it comes to firepower, the Cincinnati Bengals have been on the cutting edge. Since the Dalton-Green era started in 2011, the Bengals are usually respected, when it comes offense. But, with that notoriety comes the possibility of theft. It seems that other franchises are hungry (desperate) for the same achievements. The easiest route is to pluck away the coach. Andy Dalton and Co. find themselves in the same predicament again.

When Dalton arrived, he was under the watchful eyes of Jay Gruden. The Bengals had just completed a 4-12 campaign, the previous year. Carson Palmer had jumped ship and hope was placed in the rookie from TCU. Things didn’t go great for the Ginger, but he held up. The Bengals went 9-7 and made the playoffs.

Per ESPN stats, Dalton, and the Bengals were decent that year. They finished in the top 20, in both yards gained and points scored. For a rookie signal-caller, that wasn’t a bad start. Yet, the expectations run high with Bengals fans. The nine wins and a playoff loss weren’t embraced by all. The TCU kid would have to do better.

Training Camp Dalton
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]
Dalton began to flourish in the offense, but suffered from interceptions. Usually, they were the result of wrong routes and pressure in the pocket. Yet, the points continued to mount. The Bengals peaked at No. 6, in 2013, with an average of 26.9 points per game. They chimed in at No. 10 with 5,891 total yards per game. It was Gruden’s last year with Cincinnati.

When former running backs coach Hue Jackson was given the nod as offensive coordinator, the scheme was still the same. There were a few tweaks, but the core of what was successful wasn’t abandoned. Jackson formed a bond with Dalton and asked him to be more of a leader. The rest was history. In 2015, the Red Rifle came of age. The Bengals peaked at No. 7, scoring 26.2 yards per battle.

Throughout the maturation process for Dalton, there was a presence that went unnoticed. New O-coordinator Ken Zampese was mentoring the Bengals’ young quarterback. He quietly stayed in the shadows and watched his efforts bloom.

Zampese is confident the offense will be fine. He was matter-of-fact when discussing the situation, per The Washington Times.

“It’s the same offense. Nothing’s changed.”

Try telling that to hoards of Bengals fans. Zampese is willing to bet the results will be the same. But, legions of Cincinnati backers are looking at the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Their names can no longer be separated. The essence of the West Coast offense is still the same. But, the playbill has been changed.

Training camp starts in less than a week. That’s when the plan will come together and fans will be able to see the nuts and bolts in action. Zampese isn’t some magician that was plucked from the street corners of the Queen City. He’s the real deal. His roots run deep, as far as the business of coordinating. His lineage starts with the masterful Ernie Zampese. If that name sounds familiar, it’s forever connected with the Greatest Show on Turf and the Air Coryell offense.

Training Camp Dalton
[Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]
While Bengals fans are developing stomach ulcers, Dalton is looking forward to camp and the season.

“As time goes on, we’ll continue to get better and understand more, but we’re in a good place right now.”

The bulk of the concern is how much can be accomplished without Jackson buzzing about. The defense has been maintained with ease. Bengals brass signed key players and brought in free agents that would ensure another top-tier performance. Outside of Brandon LaFell, the burden of slot falls on first-year hopefuls.

“Zamp’s personality is a little different than Hue,” Dalton said. “The offense as a whole, and schematically, is going to take on what he likes. There are some things similar, and some things we’ll do different.”

If Dalton feels good about it, maybe Bengals Nation will be pleasantly surprised.

[Photo by John Minchillo/AP]