The Cincinnati Bengals 3-2 start to the 2011 NFL season may have surprised many people across the country, but not the guys who call Paul Brown Stadium home.
Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton appeared on Jim Rome's national sports talk radio show Friday afternoon to discuss a variety of things.
"Coming into the season nobody was picking us to win much," Dalton said. "We were out to prove everyone wrong." The Bengals were the unanimous pick by many "experts" across the country as the worst team going into the 2011 season.
While the Bengals' early success is shocking a lot of people, Dalton said it's no surprise for the guys in their locker room. He said the team keeps putting themselves in a position to win. All three of the Bengals wins so far this season have been in the comeback fashion.
What the 2011 Bengals lack in experience, they gain in competitiveness and playing smart. The Bengals have done a great job of holding onto the ball. Dalton said the team wants to be in a position late in the game with a chance to win. Even in their two losses the Bengals had a chance to win.
Coming out of TCU, Dalton was known as one of the smartest quarterbacks and best leaders in college football. He told Rome he credits a lot of his leadership qualities and knowledge of football to his high school days in Texas. Dalton played for Katy High School, a football powerhouse in the state. Despite only starting in his senior year, he gained valuable experience and attended multiple camps. He said the stakes were "very high" at a young age. He went on to TCU where he started as a freshman, eventually leading the Horned Frogs to a win over Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl and an undefeated season.
The Bengals quarterback, who's listed at 6'2", is not as tall as most of the other quarterbacks in the NFL, but that doesn't matter. Dalton said too many people focus on the size of a quarterback or the strength of their arms. He said people often overlook leadership and the ability to win. He's won on every level and has been a leader all of his career.
Dalton said he's always been successful at "getting guys to respond" and knows what it takes to get the most out of his teammates and how to push them. Five games into the season, Bengals fans can already see a difference in leadership between Dalton and Palmer.
Dalton was slated as one of the highest rated quarterbacks in April's NFL Draft, but fortunately for the Bengals, he fell to Cincinnati in the second round. Dalton was the guy the Bengals were targeting to take over after Carson Palmer "retired." Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who was very impressed with Dalton, asked him at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis if he (Dalton) was looking to come in and learn a system or start right away. Dalton told Rome his plan was to come in and start right away and that his experience and success would help him translate his skills to the next level.
Palmer, Dalton's predecessor, sat and learned behind Jon Kitna during his rookie season with the Bengals in 2003. That was the first time in NFL history a number one pick didn't take a snap in his first year. Dalton said everyone has a different thought on throwing rookie quarterbacks onto the field. You're starting to see more and more teams put their first-year signal callers on the field.
When asked about the Palmer situation that unfolded before he arrived in Cincinnati, Dalton said "he wasn't here and the job was open so I was trying to win it." He beat out Bruce Gradkowski for the starting quarterback job and hasn't looked back. Dalton and the Bengals will try to improve to 4-2 when they take on the winless Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.