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Jay Gruden: Dalton’s start “wasn’t a total debacle”

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton , a quarterback from TCU, smiles during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)


Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton had a rocky start in Friday night’s preseason loss to the Lions. Afterward offensive coordinator Jay Gruden damned Dalton with faint praise.

The game wasn’t a total debacle on his part,” Gruden said of Dalton. “He can get better as can everyone else. The good thing is there isn’t anyone that can say hey I’m awesome. Everybody can say they have a lot of improvement to do. At least he didn’t panic. He didn’t have a scared look in his eyes and we just have to do a better job. Have to get better all the way around.”

Frankly, if Dalton had been scared, it would be hard to blame him, given the way Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh roughed him up. Suh was flagged for roughing the passer for slamming Dalton to the ground on one play, and Dalton’s first pass of the game was intercepted when pressure from Suh forced Dalton to hurry his throw.

“Obviously we tried to take a shot with A.J. [Green] on the first play and Suh came up the middle,” Gruden said. “He didn’t get everything into it and he was intercepted.”

Dalton played the rest of the first half and didn’t have any more interceptions, but he didn’t take any chances downfield, either. He finished the game 11-for-15 for 69 yards.

“Scoring three points and having 110 yards at half wasn’t good enough but it is what it is right now,” Gruden said. “We have to get better.”