Every team entering the season with a second year quarterback asks the same question. In the Bengals situation this question is more complicated then normal because of Dalton’s outstanding rookie campaign. It is asking a lot for a second year quarterback who threw 20 td’s against just 13 interceptions to take a drastic step. This is especially true considering he was not even a first round pick! It was unknown going into the season what the expectations should have been, but Dalton quickly raised the bar by starting 2011 with back to back solid games. The knock on Dalton coming out of college was a lack of arm strength. He downplayed that idea by throwing four touchdown passes of over 35 yards. Three of those touchdown passes went to fellow rookie A.J. Green.
There are reasons for and against Dalton having another superb season as a sophomore and maybe even improving on his rookie season. The positives start with one player and that is A.J. Green. After just one season Green has taken a seat atop the NFL with the likes of Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. Dalton and Green are sure to improve their chemistry which could pose a major threat to the AFC. Another reason Dalton could take the next step is an improving Jermaine Gresham at the tight end position. Gresham is entering his third season in the league and looks ready to breakout in a big way. What scares us about Dalton as a rookie is the loss of a couple key weapons, plus potential offensive line struggles. Losing Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell to free agency could prove to be an issue for Dalton. Outside of Green the wide receiving core is inexperienced and thin. As for the offensive line, Cincinnati has already lost its starting left guard and center this preseason. With the lack of weapons outside the numbers and the patch work offensive line, I have to say I am growing concerned with the potential fate of this Bengals team. A lot of it rides on the shoulders of Dalton, but him and Green can only do so much without the help necessary.