AJ McCarron: ‘I Look Up To Andy Dalton’

If you look at his regular-season record, Andy Dalton is an elite NFL quarterback. He’s 40-23-1 and has led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs in each of his four NFL seasons.

His postseason record, however, tells a different story. Dalton is 0-4 with one touchdown pass and six interceptions. He has also finished with 155 passing yards or fewer in two of his last three playoff starts.

How bad has it gotten? Dalton was booed by hometown fans at the Celebrity All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

The pressure on him must be enormous – to the point where even his teammates probably feel it.

“Well, I’ve been a person that tries to stand up for Andy,” Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’ve always said – and he knows this; he plays quarterback – when you win games, you get a lot of glory you probably don’t deserve, and when you lose, you get a lot of bad credit that you don’t deserve. So it’s the way the position goes. He knows that. But the thing – and Andy is a strong-minded guy – but he’s (an) unbelievable teammate, unbelievable person, excellent dad, excellent husband, excellent Christian. He’s somebody I look up to. He’s always helped me out, especially my first year there last year. Anything I’ve needed, (he’s helped). He’ll get through it. He’s been putting in a lot of work this offseason, as we all have. Hopefully we’ve been making each other better and it’ll show this season for sure.”

McCarron, 24, is yet to make an impact in the NFL, but he did win three national championships at Alabama, including two as a starter. He was a key figure in the SEC’s run of seven straight national championships.

Now that Florida State and Ohio State have won the last two national titles, however, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn believes the SEC is suddenly at a disadvantage. Malzahn believes the conference is so good that teams are worn down by the end of the year, which hurts their chances of winning national titles.

That certainly wasn’t an issue for McCarron, but does playing a tough schedule beat you down or prepare you for what you’ll face in bowl games?

“I think it’s both,” McCarron said. “Playing in the SEC, I mean, it’s tough. I think from being in the (NFL) and watching guys that come from all different types of conferences, I think the SEC is by far the most advanced conference when it comes to if you’re having to play somebody in your first year, I think you’re the most prepared. There’s great players all over the place, but playing in the SEC (will) put some wear and tear on you. That’s just the way it is. You’re playing some big, fast and physical guys each weekend and that’s just the way it goes.”

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