It was Cincinnati vs. San Diego and Bengals fans turned on their starting quarterback.
His name was Ken Anderson.
I’m referring to a 31-14 home loss to the Chargers in 1980. Here’s how it was described in the UPI’s account of the game:
“When Anderson trotted onto the field to start each new offensive series, some of the fans booed. Late in the third quarter when Anderson went down with an injury to an already gimpy knee, cheers erupted from several sections of the stadium”
So if anybody can identify with the harsh treatment that the current #14 often receives, it’s the quarterback who wore that number in Cincinnati for 16 seasons.
“It goes with the territory,” said Anderson. “If you want to play quarterback in the NFL, that’s all part of it. They love you when you’re playing good, and when you’re not playing good, the most popular guy in town is the backup. You’ve got to have thick skin. (Andy Dalton’s) had so much success already in his career. For crying out loud – the numbers of games that he’s won, going to the playoffs in his first four years – it’s been remarkable.”
Remarkable is a good word to describe Dalton’s play in the first two games of the season. He’s completed 68% of his passes with 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and has a passer rating of 120.3.
“He hasn’t made any mistakes and he’s not a game-manager either,” said tight end Tyler Eifert. “We’re making big plays and we’re taking care of the football.”
Eifert has been on the receiving end of three of Dalton’s five touchdown passes in the first two games, including what proved to be the game-winner on Sunday. With a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter, the Bengals faced third-and-goal from the Chargers’ 9-yard-line. The 25-year-old tight end lined up as the lone receiver to the right and faked an outside move before getting inside position on San Diego cornerback Brandon Flowers. As soon as Tyler got separation, Dalton hit him in the back of the end zone.
“It was a perfect ball because it went right by his fingertips,” said Eifert. “I kind of took a while at the line, but Andy stuck with it.”
Dalton also made a pretty throw to A.J. Green to beat Flowers for the Bengals’ first touchdown. Green had a seven inch height advantage in that match-up, and the Bengals quarterback tossed it high enough where Flowers was defenseless.
“We do that every day in practice,” said Green. “Just give me a chance and I’ll go try to make a play. It’s as simple as that.”
“He put the ball up in their eyes where we want it,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.
The stats through two games speak for themselves, but earlier this week, I asked offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to take us behind the scenes into the locker room and the meeting rooms and tell us what he sees out of Dalton.
“I see a different quarterback,” Jackson told me. “I see a quarterback that’s functioning at a high level on-and-off the field with his teammates. I think there is a confidence there and I think there is a comfortability between him and myself, and I think he knows that there’s nothing that we can’t talk about. There might be something that he sees differently than me and we can have that conversation. There might be something that he feels very strongly about and wants to do and my door is always open. To me, that’s the quarterback’s deal. This is your offensive football team. We’re going to go as you go. And you should never go into the game feeling uncomfortable about anything. You should feel very comfortable about what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Dalton obviously won’t have a triple digit passer rating every week and won’t silence his critics until he achieves postseason success.
But first he has to lead the team back to the playoffs, and he’s guided the Bengals to a 2-0 start.
“Andy is a great quarterback,” said Green. “He gets us in great position to score. He’s not going to make any big mistakes and he’s playing great. And if we keep making plays when our number is called he’s going to play even better.”
“He’s done so much work this offseason,” said Jackson. “I cannot commend him enough and hopefully we can stay consistent and he can continue to play like that for the rest of the year.”
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Tags: Andy Dalton, Bengals, Ken Anderson
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The Canton Express is loading up for Ken Anderson’s bid for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Two links this week on media giant ProFootballTalk.com, an endorsement from noted quarterback quartermaster Sam Wyche, and another eye-catching historical chart have added buzz to the movement. If 50 is the new 30, then Anderson is finding out 62 is the new 42, which is the age he first became Hall eligible. Now in his 26th season of retirement, he’s in his first year on the senior ballot that goes to the nine members of the Hall’s senior committee in June.
Anderson figures to be one of 15 finalists to be discussed in Canton in August. Five senior committee members, in consultation with two current Hall of Famers, decide on two candidates that will be among the 17 finalists for the 2012 vote the day before the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News, an influential senior committee member, has indicated he believes Anderson deserves to be discussed in that final meeting one of these years.
The drumbeat that Anderson’s teammates have begun with the aid of Cincinnati realtor David Kubicki is starting to get some legs. The ProFootballReference.com career approximate value leaders chart that Kubicki dug up has Anderson as the only Hall-eligible player in the top 50 all-time not in Canton.
“The fact the chart has Chuck Bednarik as the greatest Eagle and Anthony Muñoz as the greatest Bengal shows to me that it’s legit,” says Kerry Byrne, another noted numbers-cruncher that writes for coldhardfootballfacts.com. “The fact that it values a center-linebacker like Bednarik and a left tackle like Muñoz shows that it’s taking in the important aspects of the game.”
Muñoz is ranked 17th, a spot ahead of quarterback Steve Young and a spot behind Derrick Brooks and John Elway on a list that attempts to bridge the eras of the game. Anderson, who has a higher career passer rating than Elway and a higher postseason completion percentage than Young, is logged in at No. 39 with Gino Marchetti, Randy White and Bruce Matthews. Which is ahead of Warren Moon (T44) and Tom Brady (T52).
But then with Byrne, you’re preaching to the choir. He finished his three-part series on the injustice of Anderson not being in the Hall this week and one of his stories focused on his role as a pioneer in taking Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense from the blackboard of the ’70s to a 21st century staple.
“There’s no question that Kenny Anderson withstood the test of time in that offense and played as well in it as anybody and passed it on,” former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche said Thursday. “He was not just a good player, he was a great player, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame like a Joe Montana.”
Wyche coached them both and was Walsh’s quarterbacks coach that first year in San Francisco in 1979, when he urged Walsh to draft Montana. Walsh, Paul Brown’s quarterbacks coach, brought his Anderson Bengals tapes to the Bay Area to help install an offense that would take Montana and Walsh to the Hall of Fame.
“Bill was not only teaching the quarterbacks with the training tape, but he was teaching the offense,” Wyche said. “You want to teach using good plays. And Kenny made a lot of good plays.”
Wyche remembers Anderson being particularly adept with the quick five-step drop, meshing quickness with the ability to turn his body and throw with what Wyche called efficient mechanics.
“Kenny just had a real good feel for that,” Wyche said.
Wyche had been Anderson’s head coach for three seasons when he retired after the 1986 season. He was his teammate for not quite as long. About a week before the 1971 draft, Wyche, the Bengals backup quarterback, and wife Jane were invited to dinner by Walsh and his wife. During the conversation, Walsh told Wyche not to jump to conclusions but that the Bengals planned to draft a quarterback named Anderson they felt would drop into the third or fourth round because he was from a small college in Illinois.
They did and shortly after the minicamp, Wyche was traded to the Redskins.
“You only had to see him practice for a few minutes to know he was going to be good,” Wyche said. “You never how good, but you could see he was going to be a good NFL quarterback.”
Good enough that he’s got people climbing aboard his Canton Express.
Tags: Ken Anderson, Ken Anderson Pro Football Hall of Fame bid
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