Marvin Lewis wants Andy Dalton to push Bengals

Marvin Lewis avoided becoming a coaching casualty by signing a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday to keep the NFL's second-longest active coaching run alive.

Still, Lewis understands the Bengals must improve if he wants to keep his job. Jumpstarting a lackluster offense that ranked dead last in the NFL in yards per game will be among his top priorities -- and he's hoping quarterback Andy Dalton will be the catalyst for change.

A day after offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said he plans to challenge Dalton by making him "uncomfortable," Lewis said the Bengals will urge Dalton to trust his instincts more and go outside his "box".

"We just want him to always understand that we've got his back and for him to feel comfortable raising, continuing to work to raise everybody to his level all the time," Lewis told NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano in an interview on Up to the Minute Live. "We've got some great assets around him on that offensive football team and we want him to feel comfortable pushing them, but we're going to continue to push him because he's one of the best players in this building.

"We just want to get Andy to lead us to the next level, lead us into becoming world champions."

Although Lewis didn't go into detail regarding his conversations with ownership, it appears both sides didn't have much to overcome in continuing their long-standing collaboration. The Bengals' victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, coupled with their win over an equally playoff-hungry Detroit Lions squad, might have helped push things along.

"I finished the season with our players, our coaches and so forth and spent the day, Monday on New Year's Day doing what we normally do," Lewis said. "Unfortunately if you're not playing in that last game, at some point you've got to bid everybody farewell.

"But I then had an opportunity [to sit down with team owner] Mike Brown. We sat down Monday morning, Monday afternoon and I visited with [him], his family and so forth. Later Monday afternoon and again Tuesday morning -- he and I talked again alone after that, and then I made a decision at some point Tuesday afternoon that we would go up and we would finish it up."

Lewis isn't under any illusions regarding the Bengals' 7-9 season. The year -- much like Lewis' tenure in Cincy -- was riddled with failed expectations. He understands things must change moving forward and is optimistic about what's ahead.

"We've got to get this football team better than we were, and we know everybody around us gets better so it's important that we do a great job of that," Lewis said.