Shutdown Corner - NFL

Andy Dalton is starting the preseason, and maybe moreWith Carson Palmer(notes) having taken his ball and gone home, and Chad Ochocinco trying to be "The Guy on the Couch" from Half Baked, it's a new era in Bengals football. And with that new era, evidently, comes a chance for a daisy fresh rookie to start at quarterback.

Second-round draft pick Andy Dalton(notes) is listed atop the depth chart for the Bengals' first preseason game against the Lions. And Tuesday, when someone asked head coach Marvin Lewis why Dalton would start as a rookie now, but he wouldn't start Carson Palmer as a rookie in 2003, it sounded an awful lot like Lewis plans to go with Dalton into the regular season.

"This is a different football team now," said Lewis. "The football team when I took over in 2003 couldn't afford to lose games because of the quarterback. They had a guy (Jon Kitna(notes)) who had been in the seat who a lot of the guys felt very, very comfortable with. We evaluated the things Jon had done and Jon had done some good things." [...]

"Had Carson been head and shoulders above Jon at that point he would have been the starting quarterback," said Lewis. "Andy comes in a little bit different situation. He has been in an offense that has thrown the ball quite a bit. He has been in that situation and handled it all the way through his career. The football team is put together differently. There isn't a veteran quarterback on this team who has been here and been a part of these guys."

Maybe I'm reading a little too far into things, but I'd translate that as, "Listen. We suck. We're not going to win more than six games if we start Andy Dalton or Andy Dick, so why not get the young man some experience?" In 2003, they couldn't afford to lose games because of the quarterback, but in 2011, they can?

Well, yes, because that's what rebuilding is. It's not necessarily a bad thing for the Bengals -- it's just overwhelmingly likely that they are going to be Super Bowl contenders this season, so it's a season about seasoning. Andy Dalton will get some. A.J. Green(notes) will get some. And maybe, at this time next year, the Bengals' win ceiling will be a little higher than six games.

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