Andy Dalton press conference transcript: Not used to losing edition
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton held a press conference on Tuesday as the team began the first day of the three-day mini-camp and here is the transcript:
How different are you at this point of your career to indoctrinate some players into your system?
“Going into year seven now, I’m really comfortable with everything we’ve got going here. And so now we have some of the new guys, and guys who will be playing for us this year, so we’re just making sure we are up to speed on what we’re doing. Constant communication is big, making sure they’re knowing exactly how we want it to be and exactly how we are asking them to do it. I’m in a good position now. We’ve got guys who are willing to learn. I feel like we’ve gotten better this offseason.”
Are they like sponges, soaking up how things work here?
“For sure. That’s the one thing that’s been great about the guys: Everybody is wanting to learn, trying to be the best they can be. That’s all you can ask from them right now. That’s what this time of the year is for. We got to keep going through it and keep getting these guys to not have to think that much and play fast.”
What do you think were the biggest shortcomings from last year, the biggest things that were needed to be addressed?
“The biggest jump we are going to make is that some of these younger guys who played last year just having that year of experience. If you look in the receiver position group at guys like Cody Core, Alex Erickson, and Tyler Boyd, those guys aren’t thinking about what the play is. Now they know which way to run a route on different coverages and things like that. That’s a big area where we have taken a jump. Just the trust with me and them, and the time we have spent out there with them in just doing it has made us better.”
Is there more of a sense of continuity this year?
“Yes I think so. We’ve got the core of our guys back, and we’ve got a couple guys who can help us. So it’s a new year, another year of experience for everybody. I said last year there was a lot of stuff that was new, obviously with Zamp (offensive coordinator Ken Zampese) taking over at coordinator and with a couple new receivers being out there. We really don’t have that this year. Guys understand what we are trying to do.”
Was last year the first season where you’ve had a losing season in your entire athletic career, dating back to high school and college?
You said you have never lost more than two in a row in any sport, correct?
“That’s about right.”
What was your worst year before last year? What was that like last year to deal with your first losing season?
“If we’re talking football, it was probably freshman year (in college). We were (8-5) ... We hadn’t come close to either .500 or a losing season. It felt different. There’s something you can take from last year, and things to go back and look at to see what you could have done different. This was what this whole offseason has been for, to see what was done well and what we didn’t do good. We need to getting better at things we do well and really improve on things we didn’t do well on. This offseason has been good for us.”
Is being a winner what has helped you the most with this team?
“I think that’s the most important stat. We need to get back to what we were doing and win when it matters.”
Has this offseason felt different after having a losing season?
“Yeah. Regardless of what type of season you have, you always want to get better. It’s about looking at the little details, the little things that hurt us last year, and trying to correct those things. Find different phases that we can improve upon, like how we struggled in the red zone last year. What can we do different that can increase our chances down there and make our production better? There are different things you can look at where that are areas where we struggled and say, ‘OK, we really have to make a big jump here.’ ”
Now that other leaders are gone, is there more of a leadership load on you?
“Even with those guys leaving us, I feel I was already in that position, to be the leader of the team. It may require a little more of me, but I feel like there will be other guys who will step up to be in those positions. I felt like I was already established in that position, and I have to keep finding ways to get most out of everybody. It gives other positions for guys to step up.”
Do veterans ever go to those guys and tell them that’s their chance to step up?
“Yeah, guys talk about it. It kind of happens naturally too while you’re out there. Once we get into training camp and get into games with the competition, you will see it more and more.”
In terms of your leadership, do you ever think about under- or over- doing it?
“Everybody’s personality is a little different. At the end of the day, you just want to be yourself, because people can see when you’re not. But if you’re going to talk about leadership, being the quarterback and in that leadership position, when you start as a rookie, you’re in a leadership position but you haven’t done anything yet. Once you’re at the point where I am in my career, it’s easier to say things, especially with the younger guys. It’s easier for them to listen, because I’ve got the experience of doing it.”
As a rookie, was it tough to be a leader?
“Yeah, it’s obviously different. You get in the huddle and there are guys in there who are ten years older than you. It’s just a different time. I honestly am not the same kind of leader now that I was then. But, I felt like I did alright that first year.”
Knowing how much is expected of quarterbacks now and how hard that adjustment really is, do you ever look back on your early years and appreciate the success you had with that transition?
“If you look at the expectations everybody put on us that year, no one was really expecting us to win any games. To be able to go 9-7 and make it to the playoffs is obviously overachieving from a lot of stand points. But we didn’t know anything different when we got here. So that’s the expectation. Our goal now is to get back to playing at high level and playing into January.”
You’ve made a big impact in the community with the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation. How rewarding is it to do the things you do off the field, in addition to what you’ve done on the field?
“That’s one of the big things that I don’t take for granted; being able to play the game of football and being in the NFL has given me an opportunity to help a lot of people. Not a lot of people can say that they’re in that type of position. With our event the other night raising a quarter of a million dollars, there aren’t that many people in this city who can do something like that. The game of football has given me that type of platform to help others, and we’re trying to help as many people as we can. I’m not taking the position I’m in for granted.”
Is your leadership also a part of the community?
“Sure. It’s how you live your life, and we are on this earth to help people, to serve others. For me, and for my wife and my family, we are trying everything we can to use what we have been given to help others.”
You just said you raised a quarter of a million dollars at your foundation’s event. Taking a step back, does that kind of impact blow you away?
“The fact that we were able to do that in one night is pretty special. And we’re trying to find ways to make it bigger because there’s so much need in this community. There’s need everywhere. But we feel passionate about this community. We’re trying to get as much money as we can and help as many people as we can. “
What do you know now about Cincinnati that you didn’t know seven years ago?
“There are a lot of people that care. I feel like if you’re from Cincinnati and you grew up in Cincinnati, you stay in Cincinnati. It’s a very loyal city. That’s been one thing that’s been cool, to see support that you not only get from a football standpoint, but off the field as well with the foundation being in the community. There are a lot of good people here.”
As a rookie, what was the best advice you got?
“Things happened so fast, especially with the lockout and coming into training camp. Just to trust yourself is the big thing. If you look back on it, there’s a lot that’s going to be thrown at you and a lot of stuff that’s going to be new. But you trust your preparation. You know what you are going to do out there, just play fast. The last thing you want to do is to be thinking too much.”
You’ve had continuity and consistency with your coaching staffs at every level of your career. Has that been helpful?
“Yeah absolutely. Shoot, when I was in junior high, I was running the same plays as high school. I think that’s just Texas high school football for you. The continuity has been huge. You see some of these guys who come in at the same point in their careers, let’s say like mine at seven years, and they’ve had three or four different head coaches or a new offensive coordinator every single year. That could make it tough on a career for guys. I’ve been blessed that hasn’t really happened, except that we have had some different coordinators. But that’s always been a hire from within, which has kept things similar. That’s a big part of what I’ve been able to do.”