Searching for wins and answers, the Bengals are turning over the starting quarterback reins for the first time in nine seasons.
"Let's go ahead and make the switch and get behind Ryan and try to go win these next couple of games," Bengals coach Zac Taylor of the reasoning behind the move and its timing. "This is not an easy decision to make. We're not 0-8 because of Andy. Andy has worked harder than anyone else in this building to help us win football games. Just a decision I made."
"Andy's been a great representative," Taylor said. "He's been awesome in the locker room. He's still gonna be a great leader for us."
Over the last three games, Dalton has just two touchdowns and four interceptions as the Bengals are mired in a winless start over eight games. It's the franchise's worst beginning to a season in 11 years and it comes in the first year under Taylor.
With a meager 317.2 yards of offense per game, Dalton was the quarterback for the 25th-ranked offense -- though it was 12th in passing (257.8 per game) and dead last in rushing (59.5). Having leaned heavily on the ginger gunslinger, Cincy continually came up empty on offense, having failed to score more than 23 points in a game this season and falling under 20 points in each of the last three weeks.
Dalton, who leads the NFL with 204 attempts and 338 completions, has nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 79.2 passer rating on the season. He's coming off a 24-10 loss to the Rams in which he had 329 yards, a TD and no picks. The duration of the season for Dalton and the Bengals has also been without No. 1 receiver A.J. Green, who subsequently told NFL Network's Omar Ruiz on Sunday that he was aiming at returning for the Ravens game -- which is at least a positive for Finley.
Finley, a North Carolina State product, has yet to play in a game during the regular season. During the preseason, he saw action in three games and did well, completing 47-of-64 passes (73.4 completion percentage) for 414 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and a 99.3 rating.
"I just know that we need to see what Ryan Finley can do and what he can provide for us," Taylor said. "Since we drafted him, he's shown well in training camp, his opportunities in the preseason games were very impressive. And, so we've felt like there's a talent there and you don't know what you've got until you see it live. And so, that's where we're at right now and we'll give him an opportunity to showcase what he can do."
Dalton turned 32 on Tuesday, the same day he was benched and the Bengals moved on from a starter who led them to five straight winning seasons to begin his career, but leaves in the midst of a fourth consecutive losing campaign.