Rookie Joe Burrow entered the Queen City with high expectations after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. When he went down with an ACL injury in Week 11 against Washington Football Team, Ryan Finley was asked to step up, much like he was when Andy Dalton was pulled in 2019.
The team’s 2019 fourth-round pick, Finley, was given the reigns to the team. Already in turmoil with Burrow’s injury and a terrible offensive line, Finley was set up to fail, but he certainly didn’t help his case.
In the first game that Finley got to prepare with the first team for, he threw just seven passes, completing a mere six. He had 40 yards and an interception in an ugly 19-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Signing Brandon Allen the day after Burrow went down, he quickly took over for Finley, but Zac Taylor opted to switch the two in and out on what felt like a game-by-game basis. That said, Finley was the team’s starting quarterback for what was easily their most impressive game of the season.
Starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the two team’s second matchup of the season, Finley threw for 89 yards and a touchdown. He chipped in a huge 47 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown as well.
The Bengals took down the most overrated 11-0 team in NFL history. It was glorious.
Sadly, that was really the only game that Finley showed much, and what he did show was on the ground, not as a passer. 17/32 in five games, Finley had just a 53.1% completion rate.
The Bengals will likely have Finley back as he is under contract.
It makes sense for him to grow in the organization with Burrow, and hopefully, as Burrow has already had a significant injury, Finley will be ready to back him up if anything happens to him in his second professional season.
Finley hasn’t shown enough to be a potential trade target for other franchises yet, but he should continue to be a serviceable second option for the Bengals. Let’s just say it’ll be another brutal season if Finley gets consistent snaps in 2021.