The Cincinnati Bengals announced today that they’ve benched starting quarterback Andy Dalton in favour of rookie Ryan Finley. Dalton is a nice guy and respected as a person by many around the league but this does not win games. As a player, Dalton was at best mediocre and there were far too many times this season that his play was sub par.
In Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Wembley stadium, Dalton’s shortcomings were particularly evident. His passes were not accurate enough and he failed to deliver catchable balls multiple times. Sadly for Dalton and the Bengals, this was not an anomaly. For the year, Dalton had nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
In addition to this Dalton held on to the ball far too long. It has long been a negative side of his play. Behind a porous offensive he lacks the ability to quickly process the defence. Dalton was sacked 5 times against the Rams, bringing his total to 29. It’s fair to wonder, with the draft deadline today, if the Bengals announcement was in an attempt to garner trade interest.
To give Dalton’ his dues he has had success as a passer. In fact, he tied the Bengal career record of 197 on Sunday. His pass Joe Mixon tied Ken Anderson’s record.
So what of Finley? He was the Bengals fourth round pick this year (the 104 overall pick). Finley had an impressive career at NC State, completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,928 yards with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his senior season. I wrote this about Finley when he was drafted.
In fact, ESPN’s Todd McShay thinks that Finley can be a starter in the league and gave him a second round grade. Finley possesses the size scouts like, processes the field well and completes a high percentage of his passes. The knock on him is that he’s reluctant to fit the ball in tight windows and has only above average arm strength. At worst he’s someone that can push Dalton.
Finley played well in the pre season, accruing a 73.4 percent completion rate in his three pre season games. His skill set was on display in the pre season against the Redskins. He displayed good pocket awareness and delivered a well placed ball. He doesn’t have the cannon arm of Dalton so there will need to be some changes with play calling but he processes the field well.
Whether the Bengals have success with Finley or not, they are right to see what they have in the rookie signal caller. It’s clear to see the Bengals are in full rebuild mode and finding a quarterback on the roster will be on less thing for the team to worry about in the off season. I look forward to watching him play as the Bengals hunt for their first win.