CINCINNATI -- Just before one of the six plays Andy Dalton ran Friday night, his offensive coordinator gave him a play he hated.
So he had the coach change it.
"A lot of people say that's a negative," Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Monday. "That's a positive to me. That's where you want your quarterback to be. That's the kind of relationship that you want to have with him where he can feel comfortable and say, 'Not that one.'"
Beyond viewing Dalton's veto ability as a positive, Jackson also sees it as a sign the fifth-year veteran is continuing to grow in his system and take complete ownership of the team and offense.
"This is his offense," Jackson said. "We create a lot of synergy among our players and our group by giving them that kind of trust and that kind of responsibility.
"Andy showed where he is [Friday]. He's growing in a lot of different ways, which is really good."
Earlier this preseason, head coach Marvin Lewis said 10-year veteran and longtime locker room leader Andrew Whitworth "passed the [leadership] baton" to Dalton. The respect others have had for Dalton has existed within the locker room since he was drafted in 2011, his teammates say. It appears to have grown in recent weeks, though, with the quarterback often being the first to ride teammates when they don't do well, and praise them when they do.
Just Monday, Dalton yelled ferociously at second-year center Russell Bodine after another poor snap from him. The lineman has had issues in camp of getting the ball cleanly in Dalton's hands.
Several plays after jumping on Bodine for the snafu, Dalton ordered his entire line to run downfield and celebrate with receiver A.J. Green, after Green caught a touchdown pass during 11-on-11 drills. Prior to the catch, Green had struggled, dropping a couple passes and not having his typically strong day.
"There's an expectation that we have for [Dalton] and he's meeting it and trying to meet it every day. Every day," Jackson said. "If I can say anything great about him, it's that he comes in this building ready, and understands that, man, there's a new challenge every day. And he understands I'm going to present him with it, and he's going to have to meet it."
It was in the middle of Dalton's lone drive at the start of Friday's 23-10 win over the Giants when Jackson saw his quarterback shake his head.
"I said, I got you. Gave him something else," Jackson said. "We come back and then [a play or two later] throw a touchdown pass."
Dalton's night ended after that drive. He was 3-for-3 on 31 yards and a touchdown. He also had a near-perfect 149.3 passer rating.
"Where Andy Dalton has to make the biggest difference isn't when there's no heat on him," Jackson said. "He has to make the biggest difference when the heat's on. Can you pull yourself out of it and still maintain your poise and still play as good as you played, as consistently as you did early in the year or whenever it is. You've just got to play that way every day, every time you practice. Games, night games, afternoon games, it don't matter. You've got to show up and be that consistent player all the time."
Jackson believes he's getting closer to doing that.