The Bengals have seen enough of Andy Dalton. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, rookie Ryan Finley will start at quarterback for Cincinnati when the team comes off their bye week next Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Dalton has struggled this season as the Bengals have failed to win a game with him under center. In eight games as the starter, Dalton has thrown for 2,252 yards, nine touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He leads the league with 204 completions and 338 attempts. He threw for 329 yards and one touchdown with zero turnovers in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
According to head coach Zac Taylor, the benching is because the Bengals “need to see a rookie” and “it takes more than one game.”
Finley was taken in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of N.C. State and has yet to appear in an NFL game. With Cincinnati well out of the playoff picture, the Bengals brain trust wants to see what they have in the young signal-caller.
During the preseason, Finley performed well, completing 47-of-64 passes for 414 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Cincinnati has been decimated by injuries this season, most notably on offense. Star wide receiver A.J. Green has yet to appear in a game due to an ankle injury. Now it is being reported that Green is also on the trading block.
To add insult to injury for Dalton, the benching occurred on his birthday. Dalton was born on October 29, 1987. The Katy, Texas native has lost his last 11 starts for the Bengals dating back to last season.
According to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dalton “doesn’t agree” with Zac Taylor’s decision to bench him and would have preferred it happened well before the trade deadline so his agent could evaluate other teams who need quarterback help.
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Bengals Enter Rebuilding Mode
The Dalton benching could be the first domino to fall for an 0-8 Cincinnati team that will likely enter full rebuilding mode down the stretch of the season. First-year head coach Zach Taylor has struggled to find consistency on offense, as the team is averaging just 15.5 points per game.
Taylor was hired as an offensive guru from the Sean McVay coaching tree but has not lived up to his pedigree in his first season calling the shots. If Cincinnati keeps losing, they could be in the running for the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and be in a position to draft coveted Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa.
From a fantasy perspective, Joe Mixon appears to benefit the most, as the Bengals could rely more on the run to help Finley settle in. Mixon has struggled this season behind a makeshift Cincinnati offensive line averaging just 3.2 yards per carry through the first eight games of the season.
Dalton Era Ends in Cincinnati
The “Red Rifle” has been a mainstay with the Bengals since being drafted by the team in 2011. Since then, Dalton has started all 128 games he has played for Cincinnati, having missed only eight games in his eight-year career due to injury.
Dalton led the Bengals to five straight playoff appearances, including two AFC North titles, from 2011 through 2015. However, Cincinnati was unable to win a playoff game during any of those postseason trips. The Bengals are now in the midst of their fourth straight losing season with Dalton under center.
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith