CINCINNATI -- How does quarterback Andy Dalton plan to improve this season?
In part by trading more text messages and phone calls with a couple of new friends in Southern California than he did last fall.
As the Cincinnati Bengals opened their offseason workout program Monday, Dalton revealed that at times late last season he unintentionally got away from the mechanical tweaks he had made to his throwing motion months beforehand while working with throwing specialist Tom House. With the playoff chase revving up and the pressures of figuring out which of his few uninjured receivers he'd be passing to each week, Dalton's mind became preoccupied with other concerns.
The further he got from the brief week he spent training in California with House, the harder it became for him to keep focus on the slight modifications that had him on a tear at the start of the season.
"Towards the end of the year, I felt like some things weren't in sync where if I keep up with it now, it would be," Dalton said. He took four games before getting sacked and three before throwing an interception; it was one that deflected off running back Giovani Bernard's hands.
All this year, his goal will be to pay more consistent attention to the mechanical enhancements House and his assistant Adam Dedeaux worked on during Dalton's longer visit with them early this offseason.
"That's the big understanding for me is keeping up with the process, having those guys and talking with those guys," Dalton said. "They can help me by seeing it on TV or watching it on film and they can say, 'Hey, we saw this. Try to work on that.' Having them as a resource was huge."
Dalton contends the changes made during both visits weren't major. He intimated that this year's adjustments were similar to those made last spring. Back then, House wanted Dalton to focus more on keeping his front side closed through the duration of the throw, rather than opening his lead shoulder up too quickly, as he had a tendency to do. The early-opening shoulder and subsequently low release point likely accounted for many of the lame-duck passes Dalton had in 2013, ones that were free-floating in the air for safeties and corners to easily pick off.
The Pro Bowl quarterback set a career high with 20 interceptions that season.
Earlier this offseason, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said film review indicated that nine of Dalton's 17 interceptions in 2014 were the product of poor decision-making or poor throws. His charge to Dalton the past three months has been simple: clean up the turnovers.
For Dalton, that's where House and Dedeaux come in.
"I should have used them more as a resource [last year]," Dalton said. "Now I know."
House has worked with other NFL quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Carson Palmer. While Dalton was training this year, new Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow was getting instruction, too.
"It's helped me out where I have an understanding to make throws easier for me," Dalton said. "It's just trying to fine-tune certain things to have everything working for me. I've got a better understanding of where I am mechanically and how things feel when things don't go right, and how to be able to make a quick fix."
House's training methods include getting throwers to strengthen muscle groups that are connected to the throwing motion. Dalton hasn't gained weight this offseason but returned looking larger in the chest and shoulders than he did last April.
"I feel like I'm the right kind of strong right now," he said.