Bengals Bench Dalton, Turn to Finley
In a somewhat surprising move, the Cincinnati Bengals announced on Tuesday that Ryan Finley would be taking over at quarterback following the team's Week 9 Bye. For a franchise that has resisted change in so many ways over the past decade, the move to start the rookie Finley came as a shock.
Baby Steps of Change
While this organization has been loyal to their guys to a fault (see Pacman Jones, Marvin Lewis, Vontaze Burfict, etc.), the offseason dismissal of Marvin Lewis signaled a small step in the right direction.
After that, they took a risk in hiring a young, unproven Head Coach as opposed to a mediocre retread. Billy Price, their 2018 first-round pick, was benched early in the season for more performance. And now, Andy Dalton has been notified that he will not be the starting quarterback when the Bengals return to the field on November 11th.
As mentioned in an earlier piece, I believe the Bengals should be seeking to trade Dalton to get some draft compensation. While I don't foresee that happening, the good news is the Bengals can move on from Dalton in the offseason and still not be on the hook for any dead cap.
The next eight games will be an audition for Ryan Finley, either to be a starter in 2020 or at least prove he is a serviceable backup. Finley is not the answer long-term, in my opinion, but with the importance of decent backup quarterbacks in today's NFL, the Bengals must see what they have in their fourth-round pick. Hopefully, he is able to make some strides as a passer and help the offense move the ball with some consistency that has lacked thus far.
Brace Yourselves, One Way or the Other
Bengals fans might feel refreshed to see the organization be willing to make these changes, but I should warn you: no matter which way this goes, it most likely will not be pretty. If Finley struggles, as we may rightfully expect, this team may suffer some ugly losses down the stretch.
The remaining schedule is not too daunting, but this team has shown that it doesn't take a contender to be able to hang a loss on them. If Finley succeeds, it almost certainly will not be to the tune of an (8-0) stretch. Instead, winning 3-4 games may be just enough to push the Bengals out of top-pick consideration, and as a result out of range to take a true franchise quarterback. At this point though, having a fresh face should inject a little life into this team, and into this city.