In an article published Thursday on NFL.com ranking each division by its starting quarterbacks, columnist Adam Schein had an optimistic forecast for Cincinnati Bengals starting signal-caller Andy Dalton.
Schein ranked the AFC North as the NFL’s fourth-best division by its starting quarterbacks: Dalton, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.
While the Freddie Kitchens promotion to head coach feels like a shotgun marriage, there’s no doubt that Mayfield is a young star. Baker thrived under Kitchens when he took over as offensive coordinator at the midway point last season, and I expect Mayfield to flourish even more now that Odell Beckham Jr. has been paired with his old LSU running mate, Jarvis Landry, in the Cleveland receiving corps. Mayfield is plenty accurate, and he has the “it” factor that can be so hard to find. I think he’ll have an MVP-caliber season while leading Cleveland to the playoffs. Big Ben still hasn’t stopped talking about Antonio Brown, and he’s going to miss his former go-to guy on game days. Ben is still great, although he’s down a tick from his Hall of Fame-caliber play. I am a believer in Jackson as a winner and runner, and I expect him to improve as a passer. First-round pick Hollywood Brown will help him, especially if Jackson does indeed show some growth as a thrower. Prediction: First-year Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will help Andy Dalton have the best season of his career.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) runs in the second quarter of an NFL Week 12 football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) runs in the second quarter of an NFL Week 12 football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar)
Dalton, who needs 10 touchdown passes to pass Ken Anderson for the most in franchise history, is coming off an injury-shortened 2018 campaign.
Dalton was 5-6 as a starter last year with 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 64.6 QBR before suffering a season-ending right thumb injury in a 35-20 home loss to the Cleveland Browns on November 25.
Taylor, who turned 36 earlier this month, was named the 10th head coach in franchise history in February.
He was the quarterbacks coach last season for the Los Angeles Rams, where he helped further the development of former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, who set career-highs in completion percentage (64.9), passing yards (4,688) and touchdowns (32) en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
“Zac is a bright coach with an offensive mind and background, which is important to have in today’s NFL,” Bengals President Mike Brown told The Enquirer’s Fletcher Page when Taylor was hired.
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Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor called the first day of OTAs, “sloppy, as expected. We’ve got a long ways to go.” Fletcher Page, [email protected]
Brian Callahan will also play a vital role in determining the final outcome of Schein’s prediction. Callahan, named the Bengals’ offensive coordinator in January, is Dalton’s fourth in the last five seasons. Callahan was previously the quarterbacks coach in Detroit and Oakland, where he worked with Pro Bowl quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr.