|QB Andy Dalton was called out along with MLB Rey Maualuga by coach Marvin Lewis on Wednesday to take ownership of the team. (US Presswire)|
During his Wednesday afternoon session with the media, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called out MLB Rey Maualuga and QB Andy Dalton to assert themselves as leaders of the team. He said that the two nice guys needed to “take the team by the neck,” and both needed to “be more of a dick.”
Dalton responded following practice admitting the team's 3-4 record placed them in position where certain players needed to be called out to take ownership.
“We are leaders of our unit,” Dalton said. “For Rey, he is the leader of the defense. I am the leader of the offense. So, it is a challenge for us. [Lewis] believes in us. It's nothing that he is doubting us or anything like that.”
For the first time this season, no vague cliches or confusing rhetoric littered the evaluation from the head coach. Brutal honesty left a deeper impression.
“It wouldn't have been said if we weren't where we were,” Dalton said. “Maybe this is the fire that we need.”
Dalton doesn't feel pressure to suddenly alter his personality into General George Patton. He's never been a fire and brimstone type. The message came through loud and clear, but no sense of entitlement entered into his first practice since the comments.
“Yeah, maybe I should have staged a fight or something today,” Dalton joked. “That would have been good. It's part of playing this game; it's an aggressive game. You got to expect a lot out of yourself and demand a lot out of your teammates. That's what he was trying to get across.”
Maualuga funnels into the same boat as Dalton because neither traditionally makes waves. The maligned fourth-year pro out of USC understands the game changed during the three-game losing streak -- for both the reeling Bengals and himself. (He's in the final year of his contract.)
The time has arrived to be a jerk.
“That's not who I am," he said. "But at the same time, it's nut-cutting time, and it's time for us to step up."
Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSBengals.