Andy Dalton, who played 120 games and threw nearly 4,000 passes for the only NFL coach he ever had, picked the best offseason of his nine to stay in Cincinnati with a new baby and rehabbed throwing thumb. It has allowed him to watch the physical transformation between the Marvin Lewis and Zac Taylor eras and from the expanded offices to the new lights he has no doubts his teammates are going to know they're in for a change when they arrive at Paul Brown Stadium for Tuesday's first off-season workout.
Because it's allowed by the CBA, Dalton has already had casual interaction with the new strength and conditioning staff that is going to be overseeing Phase I of not only the off-season program, but Taylor's head coaching career. Head strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese and assistants Todd Hunt and Garrett Swanson have not only been building programs, but they've been making sure what's on the walls and in the weight room reinforces Taylor's agents of change.
"They're not telling me everything that's going on around here, but there's going to be a lot of change," said Dalton Friday as he caught the tiny sneakers flipped to him by two-year-old Nash in between shooting baskets in the PBS multi-purpose room. "Just the way we do things, it's going to be different. It's obviously a different perspective, a different philosophy. Shoot, I'm anxious for next Tuesday."
Which is what Taylor is shooting for. As Taylor's motto (to be revealed in Tuesday's team meeting) loomed gigantically over the weights, Dalton was all in. And what has impressed him is so are the powers that be.
"With Zac getting here and the whole change … let's make it all feel new and feel different," Dalton said. "I think he's done great. From the day he stepped in here you felt the change. Obviously he had a plan for what he wanted and they're doing it here. You can see it with all the construction happening here and the way the staff came together. They're all in for what Zac is wanting to do."
Dalton thinks this stuff matters. He has an idea what the guys are thinking and he thinks they'll respond.
"When you walk in the building, you want to see, does it feel different? Does it feel the same?" Dalton said. "There will still be construction going on. But I think everyone is going to feel it from day one."
He's not the first player to talk about it, but he has also noticed the players and coaches have more light. And while the renovation isn't expected to be done until early May, it's clear that the players are going to have a bright new entrance into the locker room when they come in from the player parking lot.
"That's just part of it. 'We want things to feel brighter,'" Dalton said. "From the talking, that was the first thing they saw. It was dim in some places. 'Let's lighten it up.' I guess it gives you energy …. The cosmetics of this place, it was a little plain and (Taylor) had a plan for making it a little different. From what I've heard and what I've seen, (the entrance) is going to be really nice. I think that's one thing. When you walk into the building you want it to feel like it's ours. It's new, it's up to-date, its ready-to-go and it looks really cool."
After 120 games and nearly 4,000 throws, there is some snap-crackle-pop in the air.
"I'm excited to see what it's going to be Tuesday," Dalton said.