The Bengals are winless under Dalton's guidance this season, but teammates defended the veteran quarterback, noting that the 0-8 record isn't on his shoulders alone.
"Nothing seems to be going right this season. It's not Andy's fault," receiver Tyler Boyd said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "There are plays he wishes he had back out there and every guy in this locker room feels the same way. The quarterback is just the most pressured position. I praise Andy for doing what he's done here. He's got great numbers. A Pro Bowler. He's a No. 1 quarterback in my eyes."
Dalton hasn't been good this season, throwing eight interceptions to nine TDs and completing 60.4 percent of 338 attempts. As always with Dalton, however, his production ebbs and flows with the surrounding talent. Buffer the QB with weapons and decent protection, and he can move an offense. Saddle him with a sieve O-line, take away A.J. Green, and add zero run game, and it's a recipe for an 0-8 start.
Teammates view benching Dalton as a message from the front office to every player.
"Andy's been our quarterback the last nine years. If they're willing to do that, they're willing to do anything," pass rusher Sam Hubbard said. "No one's job is safe. You have to perform. That would be (the message). You never know what they're thinking upstairs. I trust them to put us in position to win games. I'll be playing defensive end here trying to do my job."
Benching Dalton gives the Bengals eight potential games to evaluate Finley coming out of the team's Week 9 bye. Slated for a prime draft slot, Cincy needs to know what it has in the fourth-round pick to know where its QB job sits heading into 2020.