Despite launching into a pace that will establish milestone numbers for Andy Dalton, the second-year quarterback has had his share of struggles this season. Interceptions, several returned for touchdowns, lack of sustainability during possessions, mediocre (at best) third down conversions, it's all there.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden believes Dalton, who tends to feel anxious in the pocket after his first option is covered, is holding onto the football too long Head coach Marvin Lewis, when asked what's stood out to him the most this year, he hinted at inconsistent quarterback play. The same disappointing performances are virtually applying to middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, often appearing hesitant long enough for an offensive lineman to lock-in, becoming a non-factor.
In a bold, and somewhat unexpected move, Lewis sent a message to both players on Wednesday:
"We're looking for our quarterback and middle linebacker to take control of our football team."
Specifying more to Dalton, Lewis continued:
"Let's clean it up," he said. "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."
"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."
It's somewhat of a bold statement for Lewis, who not only shields his players from these type of motivations in the media, rarely is he the one inciting them; though it has happened before, notably with Carlos Dunlap and Andre Smith.