Tag:Jay Gruden
Posted on: January 2, 2012 1:49 pm
 

Who will replace Steve Spagnuolo with the Rams?

Spags is out for the Rams, so who's in? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday morning, Steve Spagnuolo became the first NFL coach to get fired in 2012 (those jokes never get old do they?), as the Rams let him go after three years at the helm. Spags was 10-38 in that time and will be a hot candidate as a defensive coordinator, believed likely to land in either New York or Philadelphia.

The Rams also fired general manager Billy Devaney, which means they'll be approaching their coaching search in an interesting manner. Some reports indicate they might hire an established coach first and then seek out a young general manager but that doesn't necessarily mean it will go that way.

But right now we're more concerned about who will replace Spags in St. Louis. Let's run through some candidates. Feel free to leave yours in the comments or yell at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL if you think we forgot someone.

Jeff Fisher

Fisher's probably the top candidate for the Rams gig -- CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported on Monday that Fisher's a really hot name in coaching circles right now although Freeman believes the Colts (if the job opens) and the Bucs (freshly open!) are his top-two choices. Jason LaCanfora "expects" that the Rams will pursue Fisher. Fisher makes sense as a 4-3 defensive coach; Chris Long, Robert Quinn, James Laurinatis are nice pieces to build a defense around. On offense, Steven Jackson's got good run left, Sam Bradford is a stud and the Rams have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. So there are pieces there that might be attractive to Fisher. One concern is who he'd bring in as his offensive coordinator -- Fisher's long-time OC Mike Heimerdinger passed recently.

Jon Gruden

Our own Mike Freeman recently reported that Gruden's "leaning" towards returning to the coaching ranks (Gruden continues to deny interest). There were rumors about an A.J. Smith + Gruden combo heading to St. Louis, but a lot of things have to happen to make that work. Gruden would almost certainly be interested in taking over a gig that features a prime prospect like Bradford, despite what he said about dealing Bradford and grabbing Robert Griffin III in the upcoming draft. However, the Rams are a rebuilding gig and that might represent too much risk for Gruden to leave his cushy gig at ESPN.

Jay Gruden

But if not Jon, how about Jay? But no, seriously, why not Jay? The "other Gruden" just spent a year developing Andy Dalton into a legitimate starting quarterback, he runs the West Coast offense, he'd be a nice "splash" hire for Kroenke and he's got lots of head coaching experience, albeit not at the NFL level. If the Rams aren't thinking about going with a coordinator-level guy, though, Gruden probably won't fit the mold. A lot will depend on how they approach the search.

Mike Sherman

So, this is kind of interesting, right? Sherman, the former Packers coach, was fired by Texas A&M just a few months ago ... and found out from a recruit. When that happens, you don't typically see your name go flying into a coaching search. But Cliff Saunders of 101 ESPN says Sherman is "in play" so it's out there. Sherman was an impressive 96-57 as Packers coach from 2000-2005 and is a West Coast guy -- he was Mike Holmgren's offensive coordinator in Seattle for one year before coming back to Green Bay and

Mike Mularkey

As CBS Sports Charley Casserly noted on Monday, Mularkey's drawing plenty of attention for people looking at coaches. Matt Ryan's developed into a top-flight NFL quarterback under Mularkey's watch, and the offense has been consistently, um, consistent.  The Falcons offensive coordinator has already drawn interest from Jacksonville for their vacancy. Mularkey has previous head coaching experience, and though his tenure with the Bills ended after two years, he wasn't fired. Mularkey resigned amid speculation that he didn't like the way the front office was handling things, particularly with the hire of Marv Levy. Buffalo's 9-7 record in 2004 -- Mularkey's first year -- was their last winning season.

Rod Chudzinski

"Chud" will be on every list that we make and with good reason: the job he did with Cam Newton in 2011 is drawing a lot of attention around NFL circles and he's considered a potential head-coaching candidate as early as next season. Given Sam Bradford's success in his rookie year, there's a good chance people in St. Louis could believe Chud could coach him back up. But the Rams may be hesitant to hire another coordinator after the failures of the last regime.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Potential Jack Del Rio replacements + expert chat



Posted by Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson

The early list of candidates to replace Jack Del Rio is long and varied. (US PRESSWIRE)

Jack Del Rio's out in Jacksonville and that means it's time for everyone's favorite rollercoaster ride: the coaching carousel! JDR's been replaced by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for the rest of 2011, and Jacksonville represents an interesting situation because most folks believe they're not capable of landing a "big-name coach."

However, all the usuals are on our list, as well as some names you might want to keep an eye on. If you think we missed someone who's a viable candidate, leave them in the comments or tell us on our new Facebook page.

Jack Del Rio Fired

Mel Tucker, DC, Jaguars

Tucker's the interim coach for the Jaguars after serving as defensive coordinator for Jacksonville for the past three years, and that gives him a leg up on everyone else in Jacksonville's coaching search. Tucker's teams haven't been top flight the entire time he's been in J-Vegas, but the Jaguars 2011 defense is one of the best in the NFL, ranking fifth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed in the league. That's even more impressive considering how terrible the Jaguars offense has been. A strong close to the season could vault Tucker to the top of Gene Smith's list.


Dirk Koetter, OC, Jaguars

Koetter didn't get the interim coach label (it went to Tucker instead) for Jacksonville, which doesn't bode well for his future with the club. But he's got head coaching experience at the college level, running Boise State from 1998-2000 and Arizona State 2001-2006. Of course, the downside of Koetter is that he's been running the Jaguars offense since 2007 and, with the exception of 2008, it's been a below-average unit since he's gotten there. If Koetter can get Blaine Gabbert and the offense to show some life over the final five games, he'll be a strong candidate, if Tucker doesn't beat him out.

Jay Gruden, OC, Bengals

Even though Gruden's in just his first year as an NFL coach, he's already become a hot name as a possibility for future head-coaching jobs. His work with a Bengals offense that features two rookies -- Andy Dalton and A.J. Green -- as the centerpieces can't be ignored, and Cincy's success 11 games into the year vastly outweighs the fact that Gruden spent the previous decade or so years coaching in the UFL.

Rob Ryan, DC, Cowboys

Though Ryan has drawn a lot of attention for his mouth in Dallas, he's also drawn a lot of attention for the success of his defense. His brother is succeeding as a head coach in New York, obviously, and it's believed to be only a matter of time until Rob gets a chance. Don't sleep on him being the only coach who might actually increase ticket sales, too. The biggest question might be whether the Jaguars prefer an offensive guy heading up the team.

Rob Chudzinksi, OC, Panthers

"Chud" took his first coordinator gig this season when he followed Ron Rivera from San Diego to Carolina to serve as offensive coordinator of the Panthers. And he's drawn plenty of attention with the work he and his staff have done with Cam Newton, one of the most prolific rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. If the Jaguars believed Chudzinski could have the same effect on Gabbert as he did Cam in 2011, they'll certainly be interested in at least adding him to the short (?) list of potential candidates.

Jeff Fisher, former Titans head coach

Until he was fired last season by the Titans, Fisher was the NFL's longest tenured coach having been on the sidelines in Tennessee (and before they moved, Houston) for 17 years. He's well respected by his players and clearly capable of building a winner over the long haul. His background is as a defensive coach, but the Titans' offense had little trouble matriculating the ball down the field with the right personnel (see Eddie George and Steve McNair, for example). Xs and Os are important, but more important is motivating a team in dire need of direction.

Bill Cowher, CBS Sports NFL analyst, former Steelers head coach

The former Steelers coach said earlier this season that he had no plans on coaching in 2012, but like most things, plans can change depending on the circumstances. In this case, we're guessing Cowher would need 10 million or so circumstances to nudge him back onto the sidelines. Jacksonville isn't as glamorous as, say, Miami or New York, cities with other possible job openings at the end of the year, but presumably Cowher will be motivated by more than the local Zagat's guide. The Jags have played like an uninspired bunch in 2011 and while Cowher may not possess the tactical acumen of, say, Bill Belichick, he is, above all else, inspirational. Plus, there's a good chance Cowher will bring some of the Steelers front office with him wherever he ends up, which means built-in roster depth and salary-cap savvy.

Brian Billick, FOX Sports NFL analyst, former Ravens head coach

Billick got his job with the Ravens because he was hailed as something of an offensive mastermind during his OC-ing days with the Vikings (not hurting that perception: Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham). He's not much into developing quarterbacks he was also responsible for drafting, but Gabbert's already there. Maybe he'd have better success if he wasn't actually burdened with selecting the player, too. Either way, Billick was a winner in Baltimore even if it wasn't always pretty. He's been out of coaching since 2008 but it's only a matter of time before he gets another chance.

Brian Schottenheimer, Jets OC

The list of hot young coordinators isn't as long as it once was. Crash-and-burns from the likes of Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels tempered some of the "let's go young!" enthusiasm temporarily favored by owners and front-office types. But Schottenheimer, despite the annual criticism, is considered an up-and-comer with the Jets. That offense, with Mark Sanchez under center, is far from high-powered, instead built around the run. They've had success with that philosophy, twice making it to the AFC Championship game, but the "ground and pound" approach relies on a stout defense. The Jags have the makings of that, although it's not clear Schottenheimer would be able to get the most out of Gabbert or Jacksonville's offense.

Russ Grimm, Cardinals associated head coach

Just over four years ago, Grimm was in line to replace Cowher in Pittsburgh and widely considered head-coaching material. He lost out to Mike Tomlin for the Steelers gig and has been the associate head coach in Arizona ever since. He was an offensive lineman during his playing career and he would bring a certain toughness the Jags have lost this season. He's not a top candidate but there's no guarantee the Jags will be able to land their No. 1 choice.

Wild Card: Tom Coughlin, Giants head coach

Apparently, Coughlin's on the hot seat in New York, although that seems silly given that the Giants have been besieged with injuries and bad luck. It's not like he's lost the team, but should he get canned, Coughlin could be worth a long look to return to the place where it all started for Jacksonville. He was the franchise's first coach, from 1995-2002, and he led them to two AFC Championship appearances, and in 1999, a 14-2 record.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Film Room: Bengals vs. Steelers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



So let’s get this straight: the Steelers, at a respectable 6-3, are in third place of the AFC North? And it’s not the soft-scheduled Browns they’re chasing, but rather, the dysfunctional Bengals?

We’re going to find out over the next two months whether the Bengals are a Cinderella story or a farce. First, let’s establish some expectations by examining what the film has revealed over the past two months.



1. The ginger rookie & Jon Gruden’s brother
There’s a growing movement to anoint Andy Dalton the Offensive Rookie of the Year instead of Cam Newton. That’s a fair. Dalton’s team is 6-2, Newton’s is 2-6. But let’s keep our perspective and remember that Dalton is NOT the physical specimen that Newton is. He doesn’t have Newton’s arm, wheels or athletic improv skills. And he’s not being asked to do the same things as Newton.

That said, Dalton has been much closer to Newton’s athletic level than anyone would have ever guessed. He has shown the arm strength to make just about every throw that first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has asked of him. He’s been poised when operating from a muddied pocket, and he’s very good at releasing the ball on the move.

Gruden has done a phenomenal job playing to Dalton’s strengths. The Bengals have a balanced attack that hinges on play-action and rollouts, two concepts that slice the field for a quarterback and help define his reads (see graphic). Gruden also incorporates a lot of three-and five-step drops – another simplification tactic. As a result, the Bengals offense has not only been nearly mistake-free but also calm and consistent.

A play-action rollout simplifies things for a quarterback by essentially slicing the field in half. In this sample (against a basic two-man coverage), a fake handoff compels the defense to flow left. The only defenders who go right are the ones responsible for the two receivers running their patterns to the right.

Quarterbacking 101 teaches you to never throw across your body or back across the field. Thus, after the quarterback rolls out, he only has to read the right side of the field, which consists of nothing but his two receivers and their defensive matchups. Often, the read is simplified even more by throwing to wherever the free safety is not giving help-coverage. If a play is there, it’s easy for the quarterback to see.

If nothing’s there, the quarterback has plenty of room to throw the ball away or scramble.

2. The “sure thing” receiver & other weapons
Wideout A.J. Green has been exactly what you’d expect a No. 4 overall pick to be in Year One. He’s averaging roughly five catches, 75 yards and a little more than half a touchdown per game. He’s clearly Dalton’s go-to guy, being targeted almost automatically when facing one-on-one coverage. Green has a wide catching radius thanks to uncommon body control and a great vertical leap. He’ll climb to the top echelon of receivers once he polishes his route running (he has a bad tendency to yield ground and inside positioning on downfield patterns).

The receiving weapons around Green have been solid. Jermaine Gresham can cause matchup problems in the flats. Veteran Donald Lee has filled in well in the wake of Gresham’s hamstring injury the past two weeks. Jerome Simpson has shown why the team did not discipline him harshly after police found Costco amounts of marijuana in his home this past September. To be blunt, Simpson’s quickness is too valuable to take off the field. He’s much more reliable than Andre Caldwell.

Surprisingly, the black-and-blue ground game that figured to define Cincy’s offense has been extremely average thus far (the statistics support this, as Cincy ranks 28th with 3.7 yards per carry). Cedric Benson is a methodical, patient runner who needs steady blocking in order to thrive. He has gotten that, but not at the level he did two years ago when he averaged nearly 100 yards per game.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, despite a poor outing last week, has played at a Pro Bowl level, and right tackle Andre Smith has flashed astonishing power a few times. But the interior line and ancillary blockers (such as a sixth offensive lineman/fullback/tight end) have been up-and-down.

3. Defensive Overview
The Bengals have a deep, active defensive line that’s extremely potent against the run but just so-so against the pass. Tackles Geno Atkins and Pat Sims both regularly win phone booth matchups in impressive fashion, and Domata Peko almost always punishes teams who try to block him one-on-one. If he’s not penetrating, he’s stalemating in a way that allows teammates to make plays.
 
None of these inside players are dominant pass-rushers, though. And there isn’t much firepower outside. End Michael Johnson uses his athleticism in myriad ways but is not a regular presence in the backfield. Intriguing second-year pro Carlos Dunlap replaces Robert Geathers on passing downs. Dunlap, with his unusual upright style and sinewy explosiveness, is certainly capable of reaching the quarterback, but he’s also capable of disappearing for long stretches.

An impotent pass-rush can put considerable pressure on a secondary. Leon Hall is an elite cover corner who does not command a lot of safety help over the top. Using him in isolated solo coverage is a double-edge sword that has stabbed opponents slightly more than it’s stabbed the Bengals this season. Safeties Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker are hit-or-miss in coverage but capable of playing in space or the box. They give Mike Zimmer options.

Veteran Nate Clements has done a commendable job replacing Johnathan Joseph. Clements has been especially aggressive in short, underneath coverage. Helping in this facet is the fact that linebackers Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson both move well in the flats. It’s a little surprising that Lawson, who is replaced by Brandon Johnson in nickel (Johnson is the more comfortable of the two between the tackles), hasn’t been asked to put his hand in the dirt on passing downs.

4. Something to consider
This is a sharp, fundamentally sound defense that plays well as a unit in Mike Zimmer’s fairly aggressive scheme. But it’s also a defense that has yet to be tested. Look at the Bengals’ schedule thus far. They opened against Cleveland and Denver, two teams with major problems at wide receiver.

They faced San Francisco in Week 3, a good team but a very, very basic offense. They beat Buffalo in Week 4. Buffalo has a much-improved offense, but they’re not exactly Green Bay. Or even Dallas (never mind what the stats might say). After that it was Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Seattle, three teams with a total of zero proven quarterbacks. Last week the Bengals handled a Tennessee offense that’s respectable but nothing close to dynamic (especially through the air).

You couldn’t ask to face a more banal collection of offenses. This defense is fantastic against the run, but it remains to be seen how it will respond against a rhythmic, up-tempo passing attack.  

5. Matchup with the Steelers
Pittsburgh does have an elite, formidable offense. Cincinnati’s ho-hum pass-rush is not ideal for defending Ben Roethlisberger’s late-in-the-down magic.

The Bengals at least catch a break with wideout Emmanuel Sanders being out (arthroscopic knee surgery). Sanders would have given the Steelers aerial attack third source of speed, which Zimmer’s nickel unit may not be equipped to combat. Instead, it will be either Hines Ward or Jericho Cotchery threatening to catch six-yard slants out of the slot.

On the other side, the only defense comparable to Pittsburgh’s that this Cincy offense has faced is San Francisco’s in Week 3. The Niners were physical in taking away the receivers’ quick routes. The result was eight points and a 1/10 third down success rate for the Bengals. However, Dalton’s game has expanded since then. If need be, it’s possible, though not probable, that he’ll be able to put the team on his back and open things up for the first time this season.

Unless there continues to be slews of the fortuitous field position breaks that this Bengals offense has frequently enjoyed this season, he’ll need to.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 10 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 30, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 2:32 am
 

Report: Bengals owner wanted Mallett over Dalton

Owner Mike Brown drafted Dalton but reportedly wanted Mallett. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

During the 2001 draft, there were rumors that the Bengals, with the fourth-overall pick, gave serious consideration to taking Drew Brees. They ultimately selected defensive end Justin Smith, who had a fine career in Cincinnati but leaving for San Francisco but … well, he ain't Brees.

The Bengals ended up with the first-overall pick in 2003 and drafted Carson Palmer. And while Cincy made a couple postseason appearances, they never managed a playoff win. Last offseason, Palmer said he'd retire if the Bengals didn't trade him, and that prompted the organization to select Andy Dalton in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Turns out, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, that owner Mike Brown preferred Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett to Dalton. Mallett, by most accounts, was a first-round talent but dreaded off-field concerns dropped him down NFL draft boards. Mallett was eventually selected by the Patriots in the third round.

Schefter says that Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was "instrumental" in persuading Brown that Dalton was their guy, and through seven weeks, Gruden looks pretty smart (taking wideout A.J. Green in Round 1 wasn't a bad move, either). Dalton has started all six games, thrown for 1,311 yards (62.4 completion percentage), including seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Oh, and Cincy's 4-2. Dalton ranks 18th in Football Outsiders' QB metric, ahead of Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman (and just behind Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith).

But maybe Brown is finally getting the hang of this whole winning thing. First he was talked into drafting Dalton over Mallett, then he duped the Raiders into giving up (potentially) two first-round draft picks for Palmer.


The Cincinnati Bengals look to keep their winning streak alive as they prepare to take on the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan take a look at this matchup. Watch the game on CBS at 4:15 PM ET.

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 8:42 pm
 

Lewis says he expects Dalton to play Sunday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The healing of Dalton
Andy Dalton, who missed the second half of his team’s win against the Browns last Sunday after injuring his right wrist/forearm, threw during Thursday’s practice and Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis intimated that Dalton would be ready to play this weekend vs. the Broncos.

“He’s making great progress,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said Thursday, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We kept him on routes that he could handle. He’ll get better tomorrow and see where he’s at.”

According to the newspaper, Dalton warmed up Thursday like he regularly would for the first 30 minutes of Bengals practice, throwing swing passes to running backs and medium-length tosses to receivers.

In his pro debut, Dalton went 10 for 15 for 81 yards and a touchdown before missing the second half and watching Bruce Gradkowski lead the Bengals to the win.



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Posted on: September 1, 2011 7:02 pm
 

Report: Carson Palmer, Bengals met in late July

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

After Andy Dalton had a terrible first preseason game for the Bengals -- you might remember that Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had a great back-handed compliment, saying “it wasn’t a total debacle” -- you had to wonder if the Bengals would put in a call to Carson Palmer.

The Carson Palmer Saga
But then Dalton redeemed himself a bit by playing better in a subsequent exhibition, and though it’s still clear that the Bengals offense will probably struggle this year, Bengals fans went back to hating Palmer for leaving the team.

But apparently the Bengals HAVE been talking to Palmer, as ESPN’s Bob Holtzman, via Rotoworld, reports Palmer traveled to Cincinnati in late July to talk with the team about possibly returning.

It’s interesting news considering owner Mike Brown said this in July: "I'm not expecting him to be back. Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren’t going to reward him for doing it."

I still don’t think we’ll see Palmer on the field with the Bengals, but it’s fascinating that the possibility still exists. Or did as late as July.

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 5:27 pm
 

Bengals to replace Palmer with Gradkowski

GradkowskiPosted by Josh Katzowitz

The past few months, we’ve paid quite a bit of attention to QB Carson Palmer and whether Bengals owner Mike Brown would trade him and get something of value for his estranged QB or if he’d let him retire.

Now that Brown has said he’d rather let Palmer rot in California than trade him (he said it a little nicer than that), the Bengals had to turn their attention to finding another veteran QB who can compete with rookie Andy Dalton for the starting spot.

As Rapid Reporter Paul Dehner writes, Cincinnati has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with former Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski.

The move makes sense on a couple different levels.

1) When Gradkowski played in Tampa Bay, he worked with Jay Gruden, who’s now in charge of the Bengals offense. Their familiarity with each other certainly will help Gradkowski, particularly since Dalton hasn’t gotten any practice time in Gruden’s offense.

2) Gradkowski is a legit starting quarterback, compiling a 6-14 record in 20 starts (a third of those wins came against the Bengals!). Yes, that record is not impressive, but he’s the kind of guy that can provide some veteran leadership to help a young quarterback (you saw that a little bit last year in Oakland with Jason Campbell).

Either way, Gradkowski was so excited, he tweeted the following: “Bengal fans let’s get ready to rock and roll! Can’t wait for this great opportunity!”

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Cincy OC Gruden 'assuming Dalton' is the starter

Posted by Will Brinson

Incumbent Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is currently playing in celebrity golf tournaments, "laying low" and not talking to the media. In other words, he's not backing down from his threat to retire if he's not traded.

And as such, it looks like the Bengals really are moving on without him. Jay Gruden, the new Bengals offensive coordinator, became the second major staff member to all but proclaim Andy Dalton the starter.

"That's a good question," Gruden said when asked if they'd bring in other quarterbacks to compete, per Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson. "We're not going to force-feed anybody. We're assuming Dalton but if Dalton is not quite ready—he's only (23)—then we'll get somebody else ready."

Gruden pointed out that it's "not an easy position" to have to start a rookie (although, hey -- it's still better than rolling with Carson's brother, right Dhani Jones?), but remained confident in Dalton's ability to step in and succeed.

"Guys have [gone with a rookie] and been successful and guys have failed miserably," Gruden said. "It's not an easy position ... it's a unique position for a unique individual and I know we drafted the guy with the right frame of mind and hopefully his ability will prove his worth."

The new OC pointed out that "the way to get better is playing" instead of "sitting on the sidelines making notes on a clipboard."

This is a touch interesting, of course, because Palmer was the prototype for drafting a quarterback early, plopping him on the bench with a clipboard and letting him learn.

If Dalton can't manage to succeed along the complete opposite path, it'll be a painful and obvious comparison for the Bengals to swallow.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com