What Andy Dalton's Confidence Has Done

Bears coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor see the confidence Andy Dalton displays daily permeating the entire offense.
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One by one a procession of Bears offensive players stepped forth over the last week to describe how much impressive they found quarterback Andy Dalton.

Perhaps the best, and most telling about last year's quarterback situation, came from second-year wide receiver Darnell Mooney.

"Just literally when he first stepped in here you could feel a difference in the huddle," Mooney said. "Just in his experience, the way he moves around.

"Like when he first came in, everybody is getting the different plays, we knew that he didn't know it already, but the way he moved around he was like 'Yeah, I've been running these plays with you guys for a while'. It just seemed like that."

While Justin Fields learns, Dalton has learned.

"One hundred percent, he's got full control of this offense, without a doubt," coach Matt Nagy said. "We could play a game tomorrow and be just fine."

Dalton didn't play in this Bears/Kansas City style of offensive system in the past, but in his 10 previous seasons he's seen about everything the NFL has produced.

"I'm very comfortable with what we are doing," Dalton said. "I think that's just kind of being in the system and studying the book and making sure that everybody is on the same page.

"For me, I've been a part of so many different systems that there is not many plays that are new to me. Yeah, I'm very confident with what we have and got going. It's about building that chemistry during camp and being ready for Week 1."

None of this surprised Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was Dalton's quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator with Cincinnati.

"When you're a quarterback with as much experience as Andy’s had, you've been fooled many times by the defense and hopefully learned from it, which I think he's proven he has," Lazor said. "He's also figured out some things you can do to take control of it. And I think right now everyone is feeling that his experience brings some confidence with it. 

"I think that’s rubbing off on a lot of people. He also brings a certain tempo of play, which I think is rubbing off on the offense. So I think it’s been felt by everyone."

To borrow a term from defensive coordinator, Dalton's confidence is palpable.

It's not all of the work Dalton did at training camp which has made the difference, or even at Halas Hall in OTAs and minicamp. In the offseason, he managed to get to Chicago to learn his receivers. Besides knowing the offense, the timing with receivers is critical.

"Yeah, I worked with our guys when I first signed here," Dalton said. "I was up here and I worked with a bunch of our guys. Even this summer, off campus.

"We were kind of all over the place. We had six to eight guys probably. So yeah, we had a good group."

The place all this work led was the anticipatory throws coach Matt Nagy has spoken a good deal about this offseason. Dalton anticipates where receivers will be and puts it there for them. It can only open with timing and confidence in his receivers.

"I feel really good where we're at right now," Dalton said. "Just reading body language on certain routes—you talk about anticipation throws, when you see certain moves you know you can let the ball go and they're going to be in this spot. And I feel really good about where we're at right now."

There is an area of the offense not in the hands of Dalton and his receivers or their knowledge of the attack and it helps make the passing attack go. Of course, it's the pass blocking.

Without both of their starting tackles on the field through the first five practices, there must be questions about whether they can accomplish this for a less mobile, older quarterback like Dalton.

The pass blocking hasn't been great so far in non-padded practices.

"The best thing we've got going now is we can put pads on," Dalton said. "It's like the offensive line is at a little disadvantage when there's no pads.

"You're trying to be smart up front with guys going against each other, but now we've got pads on. The competition is real. I think things will get solidified once the pads come on and we start playing some real football."

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