For 12 years, Willie Anderson protected Cincinnati quarterbacks as well as nearly any offensive tackle in the NFL.
Even though the four-time Pro Bowler played his last game for the Bengals in 2007, he’s still trying to prevent the Cincinnati quarterback from taking too many hits.
Last Sunday as Andy Dalton struggled to a 58.2 passer rating in Cleveland – the fifth lowest of his 38 NFL starts – Anderson took to Twitter to defend the Bengals QB.
Anderson joined Dave Lapham and me on “Bengals Game Plan” on Wednesday night (ESPN 1530) to discuss his defense of the Red Rifle.
“To be able to say that you’ve taken your organization to the playoffs in your first two years with that young of a team is a big deal,” said Anderson. “In Cincinnati, we as fans are so desperate to get over the hump that I think sometimes we lose perspective. This kid was fresh out of college as a second round draft pick and he’s playing with a lot of young guys on the offensive side of the ball. They’re 2-2 now, and you can’t judge this kid’s career four games into year three.”
Anderson also cautioned people that are blasting Dalton to remember what happened to the quarterback that preceded him in Cincinnati.
“Carson turned cold toward the city because of the way things transpired around him,” said Anderson. “This kid Andy has a very good team around him. I think the coaches have changed. I think the personnel and the perspective of the team have changed. Carson was brought into Cincinnati to be the savior, and unbeknownst to him, he had some things around him that he couldn’t control. It wore down on him and you saw this southern California kid lose interest in football.
“I’ve never met Andy Dalton, but I’ve heard from coaches and people that work in the building that he’s a strong-minded kid. So rest assured, even though I defended him on Twitter, I don’t think the pressure is getting to him. He wouldn’t have made it this far in his career as a quarterback if he listened to outside pressure. One of the things that Marvin preaches is not to listen to critics outside of that building.”
After a dozen years in Cincinnati, Willie ended his career with one season in Baltimore. That year, the Ravens won a pair of playoff games before losing in the AFC Championship game to Pittsburgh. Baltimore’s quarterback was a 23-year-old rookie named Joe Flacco.
“I remember in my last year with the Ravens, we were on the practice field joking around and Joe Flacco said, ‘Man, I’ve never won anything.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘I never won in high school or in college.’ But with the Ravens, he got put into a situation where the guys around him were so good that he learned what to do. He won some playoff games but he had a veteran team around him. I think the progression with Andy is still going upward. Give the kid some time because I definitely think that he’s the kind of guy that you want running your franchise.
“There are a lot of teams in the NFL that would love to have Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback and I think we as fans should be patient and give it some time to play out.”
Big #71 still has the quarterback’s back.
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