The Bengals are sticking with quarterback Andy Dalton for the final two games of the season.
There was plenty of talk surrounding Marvin Lewis after his Bengals bowed to Minnesota on Sunday. Aside from deflecting away rumors of him leaving after this season, Lewis said he would not start AJ McCarron to end the season.
“No, I will not,” Lewis told The Cincinnati Enquirer about starting the Alabama product.
For a second straight week, McCarron made a relief appearance with the game out of reach.
Against the Vikings, McCarron completed went 3-for-6 for 19 yards. McCarron orchestrated a six-play, 23-yard drive in the fourth quarter, culminated by Giovani Bernard’s two-yard touchdown run. The shutout-snapping TD was set up by an interception by Shawn Williams.
Despite seeing his first action since the 2015 playoffs, McCarron will return to clipboard duty. Andy Dalton, who has thrown one touchdown and three picks in the last two games, will remain the starter.
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Dalton went 11 of 22 for 113 yards and two interceptions against the Vikings. His 27.3 passer rating at U.S. Bank Stadium was a season-low.
Over the last two games, the Bengals have been outscored 67-14 and Dalton has completed less than half of his passes.
It is apparent, though, that Dalton is once again working with a limited cast. Rookie running back Joe Mixon has missed both games with a concussion and Tyler Boyd was a “healthy” scratch against Minnesota.
The Bengals will stick with Dalton, who at one point this season threw nearly 200 straight passes without an interception.
The final two games are meaningless for Cincinnati. Nevertheless, there are pros and cons of giving McCarron a shot.
The advantage is that McCarron can give the Bengals (and other teams) some game tape other than the five games from 2015. However, a negative is that the Bengals will be even more short-handed for the final two weeks. It’s unclear if Mixon will return, plus both starting tackles – Andre Smith and Cedric Ogbuehi – could go on season-ending IR, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
It is likely McCarron’s tenure in stripes ends on New Year’s Day in Baltimore. Expect to see the National Champion only if Cincinnati is blown out once again.