Bill Lazor connection key for Andy Dalton

The Bears’ offensive coordinator was Dalton’s quarterbacks coach in 2016 and his offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018 with the Bengals. “Bill and I have a great relationship,” Dalton said.

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Andy Dalton (14, passing agains the Bears as linebacker Sam Acho is held by a Bengals lineman) was a full-time starter for nine seasons with the Bengals from 2011-19. He made the Pro Bowl three times — in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

Frank Victores/AP Photos

Relationships are everything in the NFL. It helped make the difference for quarterback Andy Dalton with the Bears.

When Dalton was asked Thursday about what attracted him to the Bears, his relationship with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was the first thing he mentioned. Lazor was Dalton’s quarterbacks coach with the Bengals in 2016 and his offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018 after replacing Ken Zampese two games into the 2017 season.

Despite being sacked 41 times, Dalton still posted a 91.8 passer rating and made the Pro Bowl in 2016. Dalton’s production dipped in Lazor’s two seasons as offensive coordinator — an 86.6 passer rating in 2017 and 89.6 in 2018 — before Lazor was fired after the 2018 season. But Dalton, impressed with Lazor on multiple levels, still kept in contact with him.

“Bill and I have a great relationship,’’ Dalton said. ‘‘I really enjoyed my time working with him. It wasn’t just him as a coach; it was him as a person, him as a friend. I think that’s gonna make this whole transition here a lot easier just because we have this past relationship. I’m excited to get back to working with him and seeing what we can do offensively.”

That part is a mystery because the Bears’ offense has been largely undefined — particularly in the last two seasons under coach Matt Nagy. The Bears were 26th in total offense and tied for 22nd in scoring in 2020.

“I’m excited to [work] with Matt and Bill and just talking through what we want to do offensively and to bring my experience with it,” Dalton said. “Every conversation I’ve had, it’s been fun to see the work environment that we have here, to see the relationship that Bill has with Matt and Flip [quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo]. . . . I feel like it’s going to be a great group effort. I definitely feel like I will be a part of it.”

Dalton said he did his homework on the Bears’ offense and seemed to have definite ideas of what will work best for him.

“I think we want to be multiple — we don’t want to have just one identity,” Dalton said. “We want to be able to change tempos. We want to be able to spread people out but also go to dense formations and do different things. I think just the versatility that we want offensively gives you the advantage — from shift and motion to all the different things that go along with playing offense.

“That’s the thing we’re excited about. There’s stuff to build on from what this team [did] last year. I’m excited to dig into the playbook and the tape and see exactly how we want this thing run.”

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