Andy Dalton Needs to Lead Cincinnati Bengals to the Next Level

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMarch 3, 2013

Andy Dalton needs to become more of a leader to allow the Bengals to get to the next level.
Andy Dalton needs to become more of a leader to allow the Bengals to get to the next level.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If there were ever one word to sum up Super Bowl caliber teams, it would be leadership. The very best NFL franchises all have the same thing in common—one player to lead the rest.

Quarterbacks seem to be some of the most influential leaders of a football team.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and even Robert Griffin III can gain the trust of their respective teams and gain an edge on their competition.

Subsequently, QBs that do not have this ability can find criticism from teammates, coaches, fans and pundits.

Last season, Cam Newton was seen slumped over on the bench with a towel draped over his head after a miserable defeat in which he was pulled from the game. He did not try to watch the rest of the game or learn from what he saw on the field. Instead, he decided to keep to himself.

Steve Smith, Newton's top receiver had this to say about his actions:

I lit into him because I thought it was an opportunity for him to see and understand what was going on. This is more than about playing football. It's about becoming a man and understanding what this is.

This is not something that should be said about a potential franchise QB.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton does not have this same type of attitude. In fact, he has been quite vocal with his receivers and is not afraid to speak up when a teammate makes a mistake.

However, Dalton needs to become more of a vocal leader in crucial situations during a game.

During the playoff loss to the Houston Texans, Dalton was seen on the sidelines next to backup Bruce Gradkowski with a grin on his face after a turnover. This is not the example that should be set in front of a young, hungry team.

Dalton, instead, should have sat down with his offensive teammates to rally them for the next series. This is not something that should only happen in a playoff atmosphere, but should happen for the duration of a season.

In midseason last year, head coach Marvin Lewis called out both Dalton and Rey Maualuga to be more vocal leaders of their respective units. Lewis had this to say:

We've wallowed around here in mediocrity. Let's go. We're looking for our quarterback and our middle linebacker to take hold of our football team.

Dalton did find some fire inside after Lewis singled him out, but needs to take yet another giant step in the right direction in 2013.

The Bengals currently have a young nucleus of talent and can easily be contenders for a deep playoff run. However, one important need at this point is someone to rally the team and lead them there.

If anyone is going to step up to this task, it should be the QB.

Here's looking at you, Andy Dalton.

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