Updated: April 9, 2014, 1:21 PM ET
Coley Harvey | ESPN.com
CINCINNATI — Few are anticipating the return of Bengals players to Paul Brown Stadium later this month more than new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
Perhaps Jackson’s greatest task as he takes over an offense that ranked 10th in the NFL last year is getting Andy Dalton to trust him and putting the quarterback in positions where he can play his best, turnover-free football.
Many outside the organization might believe it will take a miracle to get such performances out of Dalton, but Jackson does not. He thinks his quarterback is closing in on something big.
“He’s on the cusp of something really good,” Jackson said during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday morning.
Dalton is entering his fourth season and is looking to build upon three straight postseason appearances, each of which ended with a first-round loss. With a 30-18 record in the regular season, the 26-year-old has shown an ability to win. His 4,293 passing yards and 33 touchdowns set single-season franchise records in 2013 and helped prove his capacity for leading an offense.
Records aside, Jackson knows the most important number that Bengals fans keep track of is playoff wins. They haven’t seen one since 1991.
“The key to being a quarterback in the National Football League No. 1 is winning, and he has that trait,” Jackson said. “No. 2 is being able to win the big games. Obviously, that’s the hump that we’re trying to get over.
“The guy has the makeup to do it. What I’ve got to do is just continue to push, prod, pull, motivate, support him and the rest of this offensive unit, and then we’ve got to pick up the pieces everywhere else to give him a chance to do his job. If we do that, this young man will be right where he needs to be.”
Jackson is taking over as offensive coordinator after spending the 2013 season coaching Bengals running backs. In 2010, he was the offensive coordinator in Oakland before getting promoted to head coach in ’11. The Bengals signed his quarterback from those two teams, Jason Campbell, last month in part to give Dalton a veteran voice at the position that he hasn’t really had throughout his career.
The hallmark of Jackson’s Raiders scheme was running, and he has already vowed to do more of that in his new role with the Bengals in an effort of easing the pressure on Dalton.
“You have to have the threat of running the ball and the threat of being a physical unit in order to last for the duration of the season,” Jackson said on the radio interview.
Dalton had 20 interceptions last season. Only four quarterbacks had more.
When Bengals players return April 21 for the start of their offseason strength and conditioning program, Jackson will be able to speak to his players in a more detailed fashion about what he expects from the offense this season. Once he finally gets the chance to work with Dalton, he said he plans to take the quarterback back to the basics.
“The first thing I want to do with him is go back to the fundamentals that you used playing the game,” Jackson said. “From how you get under center, how you take a snap to the sense of urgency and your drop [back] and where you’re putting your eyes, how we’re finishing our throws and our progressions. Andy’s going to learn that there’s a time in the National Football League when you just have to say ‘Uncle’ and just throw the ball away.”Previously covered Florida State for Orlando Sentinel and Georgia Tech for Macon Telegraph
Northwestern University graduate