Post-Bye Bengals: What to Watch For

Taylor Cornell

1) Ryan Finley's Progress

The surprising decision to name rookie Ryan Finley the starting quarterback, sent shockwaves through the Bengals locker room and the Cincinnati fan base alike.  This audition will allow Finley the opportunity to show the front office that he is deserving of being the starter long-term for this team.  Without knowing what the front office is looking at as determining factors, the assumption would be that Finley would need to outperform Andy Dalton's production thus far as the recent moves have suggested that team brass sees he is not the long-term solution.  

2) A.J. Green's Return to Game Action

Having not played in a regular-season game in over 11 months, A.J. Green is slated to make his much-anticipated return in Week 10 versus Baltimore (barring reports of a potential setback on Wednesday).  With trade rumors officially dead with the deadline passed, fans will be looking forward to watching arguably the top-weapon on this offense and his fit with his new quarterback.  With contract negotiations looming this offseason, Green will be motivated to prove to the Bengals and any other potential suitors that he is healthy and still an elite wide receiver in the NFL.

3) Red Zone, Dead Zone

Halfway through the season, and the Bengals rank dead last in the NFL in scoring touchdowns once in the Red Zone (33.3%).  Of their 24 drives that have made it inside the opponent's 20-yard line, nearly as many have resulted in turnovers (7) as touchdowns (8).  The offense will look to capitalize in these situations going forward, hopefully converting more into touchdowns.

4) Tankapalooza

If Ryan Finley turns into a franchise quarterback, the Bengals will be able to use their early draft capital to focus on shoring up the defense (hello, Chase Young) and adding to their offensive line.  However, should Finley prove to be an average or less quarterback, the Bengals could (and one may argue SHOULD) turn their attention to the incoming class of rookies in the 2020 Draft.  Whether they #TankForTua or #BombForBurrow, landing a top-two pick would allow the team an opportunity to attempt to choose a franchise quarterback - a decision that can alter the future of the franchise for better or worse.

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