Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has weighed in on the Dolphins bullying scandal, saying that it shows the importance of leadership in a locker room.
Lewis noted that the bullying of Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin by teammates Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry came to a head only after Jake Long left the Dolphins in free agency. Lewis believes a leader like Long would have told his teammates to knock it off before it reached the point where Martin left the team.
“The thing I thought was interesting is Jake Long,” Lewis said. “When he was a Miami Dolphin he was in charge, and so that didn’t go on to that extent. And so I think you have to have leadership in place throughout your team that understands, our focus here is to win football games, our focus is, if that’s our starting tackle, to have him feel as good about himself as he can feel every day. Because that’s a big strong man who has to block big strong men. And so you certainly don’t want to tear him down and expect him to go battle with us on Sunday — it just doesn’t work.”
Indeed, the Ted Wells report on the Dolphins bullying case notes that the absence of Long changed the dynamic within the locker room.
“During the 2012 season, Incognito and starting left tackle Jake Long functioned as the veteran leaders on the Dolphins’ offensive line,” the report says. “After Long signed with the Rams in 2013, Incognito and starting center Mike Pouncey, a third-year player, were regarded as the leaders of the offensive line, if not the entire offense.”
Incognito and Pouncey didn’t provide the kind of leadership the Dolphins needed. Perhaps Long would have.