The defense is talking about how Andy Dalton is getting rid of the ball in fast fashion.
For the first time in 2014, as far as the media knows, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green hooked up in practice Tuesday and all seemed to be in right Bengaldom.
Dalton even allowed he's confident his contract is going to done at some point as he reflected on how much he and wife Jordan have invested in the community in the wake of their third annual celebrity waiter dinner.
Against the backdrop of people saying this is the best spring of his career, Dalton found Green for some signature big leaping gains and one pretty touchdown when Green and ball arrived at the same time in the left corner. Coming off last week's minor ankle issue, Green admitted he was "dead,' after going through his first hurry-up practice with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
"It's going to catch a lot of people off guard. We'll be in some great shape," said Green, who looked to be in a track meet as the deep routes piled up. "That's his whole mindset. Everything is off of vertical. Once you get a defense scared, all the underneath stuff comes. I think (it's a little different than in the past). Now everything is off vertical."
That can't be too surprising with Jackson and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese teaming up. Both men have put in a lot of time in Don Coryell vertical route systems. The more you see of Jackson's scheme, the more you see it's a hybrid of his past resumes that mix the open college game with a dose of West Coast offense that divides the defense in two and a pinch of Coryell that stretches the defense until it snaps.
Whatever it is, the receivers' routes combining with Dalton's off-season work look to be paying off in a ball that is getting out of his hand quicker. Defenders have been impressed by his fast release. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga says he's seen Dalton improve every year and this is the best he's ever seen him. Safety Taylor May's saw something he hadn't seen after practice.
"He just told me he beat me on a seam route," Mays said with a smile. "I always thought he had a strong arm and a fast release. He's throwing the ball with a lot of confidence. He's firing the ball around there. I think the confidence is reflected in the attitude, the way he's throwing the ball and just the way he's playing.
"Even him coming up to me and saying he beat me on that play," Mays said. "He didn't beat me on the play, but he thinks he beat me on the play. That just amplifies it."
Dalton is showing a lot of faith in the oil and lube job Dr. Tom House did on him back in March at USC and Zampese has noticed the mechanics.
"He's another step beyond where he was before technique wise. He's really worked at it," Zampese said. "To get better, get quicker, get the ball out of his hands quicker. Anticipation is better…From the time he decides to throw until the time it comes out of his hand is quicker. That's what you want."
Dalton says the House Call has worked even though he finds himself doing some of the old things.
"I feel like the ball is coming out really well right now," Dalton said. "I'm a little tighter, a little more compact. There is still some stuff I'm kind of going back to some of the natural stuff I've been doing the last 26 years of my life. But I definitely feel a difference. I feel like I am tighter in what I'm doing and getting the ball out quick."
The intriguing thing is that Dalton is flashing more confidence even as the debate over his contract swirls. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is miffed that his remarks last week about "My man Cutler in Chicago,' translated to stories that the contract is hung up on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's $18 million per year deal.
"That wasn't even a statement. I didn't even say his name. It was a non-statement and a non-point and a non-issue," Lewis observed.
"We're getting closer. It's going to work out at the right time. I'm confident something will happen, but you never know," Dalton said. "I have a lot of other things to worry about. I'm just going to let them handle it and my agent handle it and when the time comes it's going to happen, it will work out."
Dalton isn't sure how much was raised for his foundation Monday night, but he had as much help at the dinner as he did on the field Tuesday. His top three wide receivers waitered in the person of Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, as well about 10 other teammates, and he knows who commands the money at these things.
"A.J. is big time," Dalton said. "We sold two of his jerseys, raised some good money with them. I think they had fun and it was appreciated for them coming out to support what Jordan and I are doing."
What the couple has done since they arrived three years ago is immerse themselves in the community while supporting causes that aid sick children. The dinner, the trip to King's Island, the donations to Children's Hospital are starting to become familiar headlines and all that goes into the big box of the unknown as the contract plays out.
"We've really invested a lot here in Cincinnati," Dalton said. "We love it. I like it here. I love the team, I love the organization, this city has been great to me and my wife. We've made a home here. We hope to be here a long time. We feel like we will be."
Until then, there are other things to worry about.
"He said he beat me," Mays kept saying with a shake of his head. "Not that play."