CINCINNATI -- Change, change and now more change for Andy Dalton.
For the third time in his career, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has to get acclimated to the strategy, playcalling and personality of a new offensive coordinator. The previous two times he was a young player, still learning his way in the NFL. Although his ideas were heard, he often had to defer to the wishes of his lead offensive assistants.
But this time around, as a sixth-year veteran, the Bengals are looking for Dalton to take on a larger role in helping manage the transition to first-time coordinator Ken Zampese.
They want Dalton to be "the interpreter."
As Dalton's quarterbacks coach the past five seasons Zampese has built up a rapport with the passer that he will need to quickly establish with other offensive players. The language Zampese and his quarterbacks have spoken in recent seasons will have to be translated to the running backs, receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen who have seldom worked with him. That's where Dalton, as the unquestioned offensive leader, becomes important.
"He's going to be an interpreter at times on things and have to basically interpret and take the ball and continue to progress it all forward," head coach Marvin Lewis said of Dalton.
Once players return to Cincinnati for offseason workouts next month, Dalton's voice could be as important as Zampese's while other offensive players start getting a better idea of where the new coordinator will be taking their scheme.
Since his promotion in January, Zampese has echoed Lewis in saying Cincinnati's offense won't undergo a massive overhaul under his guidance. Some of the principles incorporated by the past two coordinators, Jay Gruden and Hue Jackson, will still be at play. Tempo and balance are expected to remain key components of Zampese's scheme.
Last offseason, Dalton was charged with being more of a team leader. His solid play, and heightened off-field relationships with teammates made it clear he did what was asked of him. He has to do what's asked of him this offseason by living up to his unofficial title of "interpreter."