This might be a birthday that Andy Dalton wants to forget.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Cincinnati Bengals will be moving on from their longtime quarterback Dalton after the team’s Week 9 bye.
Dalton, who has been with the Bengals since he was drafted in 2011, turns 32 on Tuesday. He’s been their starting quarterback for 8 full seasons (not including 2019), and only twice failed to start all 16 games. Finding out he’s been benched is probably not the birthday present he wanted to get to celebrate his 32nd year on Earth.
Pelissero reported that rookie Ryan Finley will be starting in Dalton’s place, presumably indefinitely. Finley was drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 draft, and played at North Carolina State.
It’s the end of an era in Cincy, but understandable given where they are. Halfway through the season, the Bengals are 0-8 and haven’t been competitive in most of their games. They came close to a win once, a 21-20 Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They came close to overtime (and a possible tie) against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, losing 26-23 after the Cardinals kicked a field goal with two seconds left. Beyond that it’s been bleak, and Dalton has been less than impressive. In eight games he has nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a career-low passer rating of 79.2.
There’s no certainty that Finley will be even marginally better than Dalton. But with Dalton and the Bengals spinning their wheels into deep, deep ruts, it’s clearly time for something to change. At the very least Finley is a rookie and will hopefully be able to learn and grow has he gains more experience.
With Dalton blowing out 32 candles on Tuesday, the Bengals have seen the best he can give them this season, and decided it’s not good enough anymore.
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