The at-time kooky effort to coax a higher level of play out of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in his fourth season has generated the kookiest observations yet from his new offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson.
“We are joined at the hip,” Jackson recently told Mike Silver of NFL.com. “We are tethered together. And I’ll jump off a building with this guy, because I believe in the things he’s trying to accomplish with his career, and I think I can help him.”
Yes, they’re joined at the hip. Unless Dalton and the Bengals do so well under Jackson’s tutelage that Jackson gets offered a head-coaching job elsewhere. At that point, the twins will become unconjoined and Dalton will be on his own.
Unless, of course, the Bengals don’t sign Dalton to a long-term deal and decide not to use the franchise tag (which would cost north of $16 million or so for 2015), which then would allow Jackson to bring his protege to Jackson’s new place of business. (Or maybe the Bengals would use the tag, knowing that Jackson would try to engineer another Carson Palmer-style trade for Dalton.)
Jackson will cross that bridge and/or jump off that building when the time comes, since it falls squarely in the category of good problems to have. Until then, Jackson needs to find a way get the most out of Dalton — which means pressing the right buttons and setting the right mood.
“The first thing he said was, ‘You’re my guy. We’re gonna do this thing together,’” Dalton told Silver. “‘You’re the guy that’s gonna take us to where we want to go.’ It’s exactly what I wanted to hear, and exactly what this team needs. You want to know, from the top down, that they’ve got your back.”
Every smart team has its starting quarterback’s back. Until it doesn’t. The goal is make the starting quarterback think the team has his back so that his play won’t suffer as he worries about whether his next incompletion or interception or other bad decision will be his last one.
For Dalton, there’s only one way for the Bengals to prove they’ve truly got his back. But that would require a financial investment that owner Mike Brown may not currently be willing to make. Until that happens, it’s all talk.
Which may be just good enough to let Jackson talk his way into another head-coaching job.