After a disastrous 0-8 start, rookie quarterback Ryan Finley gets his shot to lead the Cincinnati Bengals as the first place Baltimore Ravens come to town Sunday.
Anything can happen in any given week in the NFL. Still, it does not feel realistic for the Bengals to pick up their first win of the year this week. However, Ryan Finley has the next eight games to make his case as the franchise’s quarterback of the future.
Winning the game against a Ravens team that just bulldozed the mighty Patriots is highly unlikely for Finley and the Bengals. Regardless of the result though, Finley must do two things to make a positive first impression in his audition period.
Play a clean game
Andy Dalton was/is far from Cincinnati’s biggest problem. Still, beyond the season being a lost one and simply wanting to get a look at Finley, turnovers likely played a role in Dalton’s benching. He has eight interceptions and six fumbles (three lost) this year. Turnovers make things hard for any team. For a team as talent deficient as the Bengals, they are backbreakers. If Finley can cut those down from Dalton’s numbers, he will help this team significantly.
Get the ball to the established playmakers
While it is understandable that some would believe otherwise right now, guys like Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, and the possibly returning A.J. Green have not suddenly forgotten how to play good football. Even if it is via ten bubble screens per game for now, Finley has to get the ball to these guys and let them make plays.
He cannot carry this team to any sort of good showing or win yet, but the guys in the above paragraph can. At least to start, Finley’s role needs to be like that of a basketball point guard getting the ball to playmakers.
If Finley can do these two things Sunday and beyond, the rookie fourth round pick has a long future in Cincinnati’s quarterback room. In the short term, these are the keys to the winless Bengals getting an upset win or two down the stretch in 2019.