Hue Jackson: Andy Dalton has 'tremendous upside'

Hue Jackson has complete faith in Andy Dalton. (USATSI)
Hue Jackson has complete faith in Andy Dalton. (USATSI)

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On Thursday, the same day Jay Gruden was announced as the Redskins head coach, the Bengals replaced him with Hue Jackson, promoting the running backs coach to offensive coordinator.

The move was widely applauded, partly because Jackson is familiar with the inner workings of the Bengals offense, but also because many people think he'll get the most out of quarterback Andy Dalton, who has struggled in big games throughout his three-year career. (In fact, we talked about just that on the most recent Eye on Football Podcast, conveniently embedded below.)

On Friday, Jackson touched on his offensive philosophy, which starts with the running game.

“We know we need to run the football," he said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We want to run the football. I think that’s where it starts. That’s what he preaches. From there, we have some very talented players on the outside. We have to give them opportunities to make plays. We’re not going to shy away from having to throw it when we need to. In order to win and be a very good offensive football team, you have to be able to run the ball, and that’s going to be a starting point for us.”

And despite Dalton's three-turnover effort in the wild-card loss to the Chargers, Jackson fully supports his quarterback.

"There's no doubt in my mind about Andy," he said. "I think he has tremendous upside. Everyone has to play better and Andy has to continue to grow. ..."I'm going to be the guy that pushes Andy and I think Andy will push himself."

Jackson also wants this offense to have an identity, something you could argue has been lacking in recent years.

"You have to have something that you can lean on. ... Our offense starts with being physical. You have to be able to run the football, in my mind, to win football games," he reiterated.

"You can’t become one-dimensional in pro football anymore. These defenses are too good. You get exposed really quickly. You have to be able to do both. You have to be able to run it but you also have to be able to throw it. And sometimes you have to be able to dictate when you want to run it. That’s the kind of football team we want to be. We don’t want anybody to stop us from doing anything. There will be times when people do slow us down but at the end of the day we want to be a physical unit.”

We've said previously that while it's easy to blame Gruden for Dalton's struggles, the reality is that a coach is only as good as his quarterback. If Jackson is able to make Dalton a more consistent player, he'll undoubtedly be next offseason's hot coaching candidate.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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