This is an offseason where Andy Dalton is looking to make improvements, but not just for himself and his game. That's what the kids at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas discovered after Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"Andy's Hub" is what new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants to make the Bengals playbook. But it will always be the name of the room in the Infusion Center of the Dodson Specialty Clinics for children who are chronically and critically ill and their families.
The Hub is a locker supplied with iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, gaming systems and other items to help pass the time while a child is undergoing treatment or recovery.
The Daltons are going to continue to seek a place in Cincinnati that can use an "Andy's Hub," and when they find it they'll no doubt have the same quick reaction when they went on a tour of Cook Children's Medical Center.
"When we saw the room, it didn't have anything like that and right away it seemed like the perfect place," Dalton said. "What we're trying to do is make things easier for the kids. Make things more enjoyable and try to put a smile on their faces even when it's a tough situation that they're in. Try to keep them busy."
Dalton knows full well the power of positive thinking. He has been hearing it for the last two months from Jackson and head coach Marvin Lewis. Not just on his cell phone, but in cyberspace and he appreciates how his bosses are backing him.
He has responded by signing up for his own self-help session next week at USCwith throwing guru Tom House, the former major-league pitcher whom has tutored such Pro Bowl quarterbacks as Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
"It starts from the top and Marvin's been very supportive. Not just by what he's said to me, but what he's said in the media," Dalton said. "Same with Hue. That I'm the guy. It's exactly what I want to hear, obviously, and what everybody needs to hear. We've accomplished a lot in the three years I've been here.
"We haven't won a playoff game and that's what we're striving to do. But because we haven't won a playoff game, that doesn't take away from everything we've accomplished and how much we've improved since the first time we stepped on the field my rookie year."
But Dalton welcomes Jackson ratcheting everything up a notch. Literally. He believes that Jackson's fast-paced approach is going to help him and everybody else. They haven't been able to send each other Xs and Os because of the rules, but Dalton is excited about the vibes.
"One thing he's harping on is he likes to play fast with an up-temp offense," Dalton said. "I think that's something that fits right in with we've done the last several years. The faster you play, the more the defense has to react quicker. I'm excited about where it's headed."
He senses Jackson's approach is going to help him.
"There's a lot of stuff that's going to be a little cleaner as far as terminology or different formations, whatever it is," Dalton said. "I think it will be a smoother, easier way of getting plays in. I think he'll definitely help.
"We're going to be doing a lot of the same things and we're going to be trying to improve other things, Dalton said. "He understands the players that we have."