The timing of Marvin Lewis’ public challenge to QB Andy Dalton to “to take the next step of being the leader” of the Bengals isn’t curious in the least, the way we hear it. The Bengals, after a 3-1 start, have faded since and now sit two games out of first place in the AFC North.
Dalton, Lewis said, needs to “grab this football team by the back of its neck and let's go. Let's move forward.”
The call from Lewis for more assertiveness comes at a challenging time for Dalton in his development as a quarterback. Dalton is in his second NFL season, and by Year Two, "the defensive coordinators get the book on you," one experienced personnel man told PFW, speaking generally about the position.
In some ways, Dalton has played better than he did a season ago. He’s completing a significantly higher percentage of his passes, and he’s on pace to throw for many more yards and touchdowns. However, turnovers have been a problem at times.
According to the personnel man, it can take a quarterback until Year Three or even Year Four to become "the guy" in the offense — the leader and tone setter.
Lewis also noted that he wanted to see more clear leadership from MLB Rey Maualuga. Whereas Dalton very clearly is the Bengals’ quarterback now and in the future, Maualuga is in the final year of his contract, and he hasn’t been an impact performer. The way we hear it, Maualuga unmistakably faces a key stretch as it relates to his future in Cincinnati. It is clear the clock is ticking on him, we’re told.