The Cincinnati Bengals will be purposefully not starting a healthy Andy Dalton for the first time since 2011. The 0-8 Bengals have nothing to lose as Dalton has played a below-average level throughout the season.
That said, they’ve announced that they’ll be inserting fourth-round draft pick Ryan Finley into the starting unit. Although the frustrations between Dalton’s camp and the timing of the decision were well noted, this upcoming week will be all about Finley.
Finley was a three-year starter at the NC State and looked terrific in the team’s preseason. He threw for three touchdowns and one interceptions while completing just over 73% of his passes during the four games.
While that was just the preseason, Taylor has confidence in his rookie quarterback heading into a matchup with the AFC North’s most complete team.
“We’ll find out. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do so far. He had a good training camp. He’s absorbed the playbook the right way as any backup would. He had a great college career. That’s why we drafted him. He’s got a very calm demeanor, a consistent demeanor. I think the guys will respond to that. He throws with great anticipation and accuracy. He’s got good touch down the field and he can extend plays in the pocket a little bit,” Taylor told Bengals.com reporter Geoff Hobson.
Taylor also noted that he was impressed with the quarterback’s NFL IQ and his pocket awareness, both key traits of the league’s top players at the position. However, with almost two weeks to adjust, there will be little excuse for poor execution from Cincinnati.
Their Week 10 matchup with Baltimore could also feature A.J. Green. For the Bengals’ offensive, that’d be a huge boost and already give Finley more options than Dalton had to start the season.
Although the frustrations are growing, it’s time for Finley to show that he belongs in this league, and it starts Sunday.