Open letter to Andy Dalton

May, 23, 2011
5/23/11
11:00
AM ET
Dear Andy Dalton,

Congratulations on being drafted in the second-round by the Cincinnati Bengals. I know it's a dream come true for every pro athlete to finally hear their name called.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireThe Bengals have high hopes for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
But the reason I'm writing you, Andy, is to provide some early tips on how to be successful in Cincinnati. Over the past 20 years, many quarterbacks have arrived -- including most recently Carson Palmer -- only to leave downtrodden, beaten and frustrated. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid becoming another statistic.

For starters, Andy, I encourage you to learn from Palmer's mistakes. Be a leader, first and foremost, because the Bengals certainly need it from the quarterback position. Palmer was very talented. But, for whatever reason, he never seemed to have that natural leadership ability, which could have made a difference. Here's a subtle hint: Partner up with left tackle Andrew Whitworth and win him over first. That will go a long way to securing your locker room.

Second, do not get frustrated early. This isn't TCU, Andy. You will not go undefeated this season. But if you show toughness and poise through the ups and downs, that will raise some eyebrows in Cincinnati. Colt McCoy is a good example in Cleveland. He went 2-6 as a starter, but took his beating every week in stride and competed hard. McCoy also showed flashes of ability as a rookie and now his organization believes in him. Follow that blueprint and win a few more games if possible.

My last bit of advice is to be energetic and always work hard. The Bengals are downtrodden, in need of new life and will be looking for you to provide it. Show that you love football. Enjoy practice. Relish film study. Do all the little things to set the example for others to follow. Trust me, if the quarterback doesn't want to work hard, neither will your backs and receivers.

Quarterbacking the Bengals won't be easy, Andy. You're joining a franchise which hasn't won a playoff game in 20 years. But the NFL is built on parity. So it can be done.

The great news is that the bar is set low. Win one playoff game and you're suddenly a hero in Cincy. Go beyond that and you could be a local legend.

Hopefully, you take my advice into consideration. Good luck, Andy.

Yours Truly,

James Walker

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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