Cincinnati Bengals High 5: Five questions with Andy Dalton

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to complete a pass during their game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to complete a pass during their game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Quarterback talks about disappointing 2016 season

For the first time since he played pee wee football, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is going to finish a season with a losing record.

The Bengals are 5-9-1 heading into Sunday’s season finale against Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium. The Ravens (8-7) can still finish with a winning record but have already been eliminated from the playoffs.

The last time the Bengals played game in which neither team had anything on the line was Dec. 19, 2010, when the 3-10 Bengals played host to the 5-8 Cleveland Browns. Dalton was a senior at TCU and practicing for the Rose Bowl, where he would lead the Horned Frogs to a 21-19 victory against Wisconsin to cap a perfect 13-0 season.

Prior to going 44-8 during his four seasons at TCU, Dalton led Katy High School to the Texas state championship game as a senior. And he was 45-32-2 in his first five seasons with the Bengals, leading them to the playoffs each time.

But 2016 has been a different story, even though Dalton is having one of his better statistical seasons. He needs 314 yards to surpass his career high of 4,293 set in 2013, and his eight interceptions are his lowest since throwing seven last year in a season shorted to 13 games due to a broken thumb.

Dalton talked about the challenges this season has presented, and he is the subject of this week’s Bengals High 5:

Q: How strange does it feel to be going out there this week with nothing to play for?

A: It's been different. I've never had a week like this before. You're still playing for pride. You have to treat it like it's a normal week and prepare the same way. There's part of you that thinks you're not playing for anything, but that's what you have to fight. You have to do things the same way you've done them the whole year.

Q: What are some takeaways you have from this type of season?

A: It comes down to little moments in games. Every year up to this point, we've been able to finish and make the play. This year we haven't done it. It's evident this year that all those little things matter. It can be frustrating. You have to see the things that didn't go right, and try to improve on them. You try to talk about different situations and try to do better, and hope the preparation you put in will allow you to overcome it the next time. Unfortunately for us this year, it hasn't worked out that way.

Q: How has you and first-year offensive coordinator Ken Zampese's relationship evolved over the course of the year?

A: We still have the similar relationship that we had (when Zampese was quarterbacks coach). He's still around and in meetings and communicating what's going on. For him, it's a little bit different role now. He's not just in the quarterback room, it's with everybody now. We still have a really good relationship. I think he's gotten more comfortable with being out there and calling plays, and knowing which plays to call in certain situations. He's gotten a better feel for what he's doing.

Q: How do you want to see the offense evolve going into next year?

A: It'd be nice to have everyone healthy. For us, we have to just get better. There were a lot of young guys that played. They hadn't been here a whole lot. At times, we had three rookie receivers out there. Everybody is going to get better with time.

Q: Does your off-field involvement with your foundation and other charity work put the bad season into perspective?

A: It definitely is a perspective thing. Obviously we wish the season would have been different, but the things we were able to do through my foundation, and the things that guys on this team did with their own charity work, we were able to make an impact on people's lives. You can look at that and see all the good that has been able to come from this season.