The Cincinnati Bengals fell to 0-11 on Sunday, the worst start in franchise history.
They lost to a Pittsburgh Steelers team that was without its best receiver, best running back and starting center, and benched their starting quarterback — who’s only starting because the franchise guy is out for the season — for an undrafted rookie. And the rookie actually brought the patchwork offense to life.
If there is any silver lining at all to the Bengals’ woeful season thus far, it’s that they now have a two-game lead over the rest of the league in the race for the No. 1 pick.
But does Zac Taylor want to lose that, too?
On Monday, Taylor told media that he is re-installing Andy Dalton as the team’s quarterback, three weeks after benching Dalton — on his birthday no less — to give rookie Ryan Finley a chance to start.
While Dalton wasn’t great in the first eight games, completing 60.4 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns against eight interceptions and a rating of 79.2, he also wasn’t given much in the way of protection, sacked an average of 3.5 times per game. Dalton does have three rushing touchdowns.
But Finley, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State this year, was terrible, unable to complete even half of his pass attempts (41-of-87, or 47.1 percent to be exact), which is hard to do in today’s NFL. He had just two passing touchdowns and two interceptions, a 62.1 rating. Finley also was sacked a lot, with 11 over his three starts.
“Right now this decision is to help us beat New York,” Taylor said of the switch back to Dalton. Cincinnati plays the Jets on Sunday. “We just want a win, and that veteran presence he has will certainly be helpful.”
The Bengals lost their last two games in 2018, meaning it’s been nearly a full year, 344 days, since they’ve won a game. One of their fans, an Indiana sports bar owner named Jeff Lanham, has been living on the roof of his restaurant since October 7 and isn’t coming down until the team wins.
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