With the Bengals in the midst of a three-game losing streak, Head Coach Marvin Lewis felt it was time to address the leadership situation with his team. On Wednesday he talked about his starting QB in Andy Dalton, as well as his starting MLB in Rey Maualuga, the two players who should be the most vocal leaders on their respective sides of the ball, but have been very inconsistent in both their play on the field, as well as their leadership off of it:
We’re looking for our quarterback and our middle linebacker to take hold of our football team and that’s important for us. I think both guys are such good people that you have to be a little bit of a … dick. But you do and that’s what these guys we’re talking about have and I think that’s part of it.
Lewis had more to say regarding the teams’ franchise QB who’s been regressing in his second NFL season:
Andy has a great deal of self confidence and the guys around him but at some point you step out of your skin and you go and it’s time to go. It’s time to step around here both places, all throughout. We’ve wallowed around here in mediocrity. Let’s go and that’s the thing we have to do.
While its easy to point out Dalton’s errors, his recent struggle have significantly hurt his team. He’s thrown an interception in every game, and six in the last three games, while his 10 picks are tied for second-most in the AFC. Maualuga still ranks as Pro Football Focus worst middle linebacker (-15.5) out of 49 eligible MLBs, and his 9 missed tackles are tied for the 4th-most in the NFL.
This was a very bold and smart move by Lewis to callout two of the most visible figures on this team. With the resent play of the Bengals as a whole, it was past due for Lewis to begin publicly calling out his players who are clearly underperforming, and by calling out two of the teams’ perceived leaders, he’s essentially putting the whole team on notice going forward.