Bengals Bench Andy Dalton in Favor of Rookie Quarterback


When the Ravens travel to Cincinnati on Nov. 10, they'll face a different starting quarterback than Andy Dalton.

The Bengals have benched Dalton, their long-time starter and winningest quarterback in franchise history, in favor of rookie Ryan Finley. Finley's first NFL start will come against the Ravens following Cincinnati's Week 9 bye.

Cincinnati's decision to go with Finley, their fourth-round pick from North Carolina State, is another sign that the AFC North is entering a new era.

Dalton reportedly received the news of his benching on Tuesday, which happened to be his 32nd birthday. He has been the Bengals' starting quarterback since 2011 and has thrown for 30,352 yards and 197 touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl three times, and leading Cincinnati to the playoffs four times.

Dalton has an 8-8 career record against Baltimore, including a few memorable performances. He has thrown for at least three touchdowns on three occasions against the Ravens. Last year, Dalton's four-touchdown performance led the Bengals to a 34-23 victory over Baltimore in Week 2.

In 2017, Dalton handed Baltimore one of its most devastating defeats, connecting with Tyler Boyd on a 49-yard touchdown pass during the final minute of Week 17, lifting Cincinnati to a season-ending victory that kept Baltimore out of the playoffs. 

However, the Bengals are struggling at 0-8 under first-year Head Coach Zac Taylor. Cincinnati needs to determine if Finley will be their quarterback of the future and Dalton's current contract expires after next season.

The AFC North has seen significant changes at quarterback since the start of last season. None of the AFC North quarterbacks that started in Week 1 last year will start their team's next game.

The Ravens have found their next franchise quarterback in 22-year-old Lamar Jackson, who has emerged as an MVP candidate this season. The Cleveland Browns made Baker Mayfield their starting quarterback last season. With Ben Roethlisberger out for the season following elbow surgery, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going with second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph for the rest of this season.

Now, after eight-plus seasons with Dalton at the helm, the Bengals seem to be entering a new quarterback era as well.

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