The Bengals head coach has been looking for a solution to his team’s recent downward spiral on the football field. Marvin Lewis has made it known all week that something needs to change and it has to start with the players. Earlier this week, he called out his young quarterback for his interception prone play. Then during Wednesday’s press conference, the coach put out a challenge to the two guys that find themselves at the center of their respective sides of the ball.
“We’re looking for our quarterback and middle linebacker to take hold of our football team,” Lewis said in his Wednesday news conference. “I think this is important for us.”
Lewis went as far as to say that he thinks both guys need to shed their nice guy personalities and be “jerks” at the appropriate times. This was a first for the Bengals coach, who usually keeps call outs behind closed doors and out of the ears of the media. Many believe this is the first time in ten years that he has gone out of his way to publicly challenge his quarterback to be a leader.
“Let’s clean it up. We’re looking for Andy to take the next step of being the leader of this football team. A very confident, vocal if he needs to be…grab this football team by the back of its neck and let’s go, let’s move forward,” Lewis said of Dalton at the end of the press conference.
This comes during a week that the Bengals are not expected to fare well on game day when Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos come to town. Maybe this is the spark that the team needs to help them rise to the occasion in front of their hometown crowd. At least it will provide a spark for these two players that have struggled this season.
Rey Maualuga has been under the microscope since the season began. With the breakout play of the undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict, the fans have been calling for Rey to be replaced all season. Maualuga has been taking a bulk of the blame for the Bengals defensive problems while trying to stop offensives from carving up the middle of the field against the team.
Dalton has become only the second player in Bengals history to throw at least one interception in the first seven games of the season. After throwing a total of 13 interceptions in his rookie year, the quarterback has thrown 10 already in the first half of this season. When the team was winning early on in the 2012 campaign, everyone brushed his interception issues to the side. Now that the team has dropped their previous three games, the spotlight of scrutiny is being shined in his face.
After hearing their coach’s comments, both players took heed and knew what they had to do to get their team riled up on game day. Rey Maualuga shared a quote Lewis gave him and offered a solution for the defensive problems.
“The rate of the pack is determined by the speed of the leader.”
Maualuga added, “The quicker I get things going, the quicker I get things riled up, the more people buy into it. And the more we can get things going. I like the opportunity and the challenge.”
Dalton took a more boyish approach, joking that maybe he should have started a fight in practice. He did state that, “We’ll take it as a challenge. He just wants us to get better.” He went on to say that he understands where Lewis coming from, “It’s part of playing this game. It’s an aggressive game.”
Hopefully these guys or someone on the team will take Marvin’s words to heart and step up this week and get all of the players motivated for a win. The road through the Broncos will be tough, but Manning isn’t invincible, as he has shown already this season. A win is possible and can be achieved with leadership and improved play from the team’s key position players.