When the football season ends, my wife and I catch up on the TV shows that we never have the opportunity to watch in the fall.
In case you’re interested, we’re currently watching season three of Breaking Bad. Wow! It’s definitely on the short list of my all-time favorite shows.
Judging by his Twitter feed, Andy and Jordan Dalton are Homeland viewers in the off-season:
— Andy Dalton (@andydalton14) January 21, 2013
But Carrie Mathison and Nicolas Brody are not the only on-screen duo that the Bengals quarterback has been watching. Dalton has spent much of his off-season studying fellow QBs Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
“I’ve watched a lot of Green Bay’s offense and I’ve watched a lot of the Saints’ offense because they have two of the best quarterbacks in the league,” said Dalton. “To see what they’re doing – how they’re getting their completions and how they’re scoring their touchdowns, and what mistakes are they making. Are they forcing the ball on their interceptions…are they taking chances…what are they doing?
“I’d love for my career to end up like their careers have ended up. You want to study those guys and see what they’re doing right. Not only mechanics-wise, footwork, whatever it is, but also offensively what are they doing. Our offenses are similar – we’re doing a lot of the same stuff that they’re doing – it’s just how they’re putting points on the board.”
The Saints and Packers finished in the top five in the NFL in scoring last year (Cincinnati was 12th), but Dalton says he didn’t spend much time studying the league’s top scoring team – New England.
“I would say that Tom Brady and I are a little bit different,” said Dalton. “The way that I play I would consider it to be more like a Drew Brees or an Aaron Rodgers – whether it be body type because I’m not 6’5” – and (the Patriots) do different stuff offensively than we do. Obviously they do a lot of good stuff, but I think the makeup of their team is a little bit different as well.”
Like Dalton, Aaron Rodgers is listed at 6’2”. Brees, on the other hand, is generously listed at 6’0”.
“It’s funny, before the draft I visited the Saints and they had Drew Brees and Chase Daniel,” said Dalton with a grin. “They said I might be too tall to play there at 6’2”.
It’s interesting to compare Dalton to Brees. Andy’s statistics are far superior to the numbers that Drew posted in his first two years as a starter in the NFL.
Dalton: 629-for-1044 (60.2%), 7067 yards, 47 TD, 29 INT, 83.9 passer rating
Brees: 525-for-882 (59.5%), 5392 yards, 28 TD, 31 INT, 73.1 passer rating
Brees took a quantum leap in his third season as a starter in San Diego, leading the Chargers to an 11-4 record while posting a passer rating of 104.8 and going to his first Pro Bowl. Dalton hopes to take similar strides in 2013 even though he isn’t ready to call himself an established veteran.
“I’ve played quite a bit so I don’t know what the term is that you use, but I’ve been around for a while and I think I’ve earned some respect,” said Dalton. “I’m excited for this year.”
One reason for Andy’s excitement is his familiarity with his receiving corps. He’ll enter his third season with A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Andrew Hawkins, Brandon Tate, and Ryan Whalen and his second year with Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Orson Charles.
“I know how guys run routes,” said Dalton. “I know what to expect from them, what type of person they are, and what type of worker they are. We’ve got a great group that works really hard and it’s going to be nice to have everybody healthy at the same time.”
“There’s a big difference in confidence level,” said Marvin Jones. “We have all of these young receivers that have experience now. We’re ready to be a great force in this league.”
“It’s huge that there’s not a whole lot of teaching now,” said Dalton. “It’s perfecting what we were doing.”
That includes continuing to find ways to utilize A.J. Green’s unique gifts. Dalton did not throw Green a pass in the first half of the playoff loss in Houston, and only connected with A.J. once in a home loss to Pittsburgh.
“A.J. got a lot of cover two to his side,” said Dalton. “They tried to take away some of the vertical throws and things like that. With the type of player that A.J. is, we’re going to see that a lot. The big thing with him is moving him around and finding ways to get him the ball.
“With a guy like A.J., the term ‘open’ is a little bit different. There are times going back and looking at the film where I still probably could have thrown it to him on certain routes and different things where I tried to work somewhere else. It just comes down to being smart with the ball and knowing when you can take those chances and when to move on.”
Those are undoubtedly some of the lessons that Dalton was hoping to learn by watching Rodgers and Brees in the off-season. I asked Andy if it was his idea to study those two quarterbacks or if it came from the coaching staff.
“They’ve suggested it, but I was going to watch regardless,” Dalton told me. “Those are two of the best quarterbacks in the league and you try to take little things from what they’re doing. I think it will help me out.
“I think I’ve figured things out a little more. I’ve watched a lot of tape and I’m ready to get back playing again.”
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