Aaron Rodgers wasn’t happy to see quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt leave the Packers this offseason and Van Pelt said it was “nice of him to acknowledge that” during an interview with the Bengals website this week.
Van Pelt was being interviewed because he is now the quarterbacks coach for the Bengals, where he’ll be working with Andy Dalton rather than Rodgers. It’s a significant change for Van Pelt after a long run in Green Bay as he moves to coaching a quarterback that doesn’t have the same skill set that Rodgers brings to the table.
Van Pelt said “you play to the player’s strengths” when asked how his coaching style will change in his new home and he made it clear that he sees plenty of them to work with in his review of Dalton’s recent work.
“I got a chance to come in and watch all the tape from the last two years,” Van Pelt said. “I wasn’t quite as in tune with Andy as I was when he came out in the draft. Obviously I evaluated him then and had a high opinion of him then. See the same exact things on tape. I think he’s a very, very good quarterback and a playoff caliber quarterback. He does a lot of really, really good things. The more tape I watched, the more excited I got. I think this guy has potential to be an elite player in the league. It’s our job to challenge him to get to that next level.”
Dalton is entering his eighth season and that makes it fair to wonder if a leap to another level is a likely outcome from any amount of coaching. Playing cleaner than Dalton did while turning the ball over 16 times last season seems reasonable, however, and getting that done should help push the Bengals back in the direction of the playoff berth they’ve missed out on the last two years.