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Andy Dalton: I think we’re close to returning to the postseason

Andy Dalton says the Bengals are close to returning to the playoffs, which is not too far-fetched considering their core is still in place.

The Bengals ranked 32nd in total offense and 26th in scoring last season, but they showed promise in the final two games: Cincinnati beat Detroit 26-17 and Baltimore 31-27, knocking the Lions and Ravens out of postseason contention.

Andy Dalton is encouraged because coordinator Bill Lazor gets an entire offseason to implement his offense. Lazor replaced Ken Zampese after the Bengals were shut out in their first two games.

“I don’t know a ton [about any changes to the offense], but I’ve really enjoyed Bill Lazor being there,” Dalton said last week. “I know he’s got a plan for us and a plan of how he wants to do things. So for him obviously taking over in the third week last year, he didn’t have a chance to really put his stamp on everything. He was kind of evolving what we were doing. Now it’ll be a chance for him to have a full offseason, full OTAs, training camp to put his stuff in and to do it how he wants to do it. I’m looking forward to that.”

The Bengals went to the playoffs Dalton’s first five seasons, though they lost in the wild-card round all five seasons. They slipped to 6-9-1 in 2016 and 7-9 last season.

But Dalton believes the Bengals are close to getting back to where they were.

“I do,” Dalton said. “If you look at last year, there’s four or five games that came down to the last couple of minutes of the game and under a touchdown difference. I think if a couple of those games had flipped we could have made the playoffs last year, but obviously we didn’t finish some of these games. I think we’re close. I think we’ve got the right guys. We’ll add some more once the draft happens. At this point, I’m just looking forward to getting back and working with everybody and being around everybody.”