Can Ryan Finley be the Bengals 2020 Starter?

What is the point in seeing what the Bengals have in Ryan Finley if there is little to no chance that he can actually win the starting job long term? There isn’t one.

Ryan Finley has to believe he is competing for the starting quarterback position in 2020. This Sunday when he faces the Baltimore Ravens, he will be given the opportunity to start for an NFL franchise. We have seen guys come off the bench with the same opportunity and never look back. But are Bengals fans even open to the idea of Ryan Finley winning the starting quarterback job beyond the end of this year?

If you are one of the many fans who are salivating over the prospect of drafting one of the top collegiate quarterbacks, then probably not. Still, a lot depends on how Finley plays. He has the next eight weeks to make his mark. Jake Liscow of the LockedOn Bengals podcast shared his perspective with the following tweet.

As Jake stated, no singular stat will determine Finley’s fate, but there is one stat that matters in deciding if the Bengals are even in a position to take a top level quarterback in the draft, wins and losses. When deciding if it is even possible for Finley to prove he is a franchise changing player, we should look at the first eight starts of some quarterbacks who are the definition of franchise changing QBs for comparison.

First eight starts team W/L record:
Peyton Manning: 1-7
Drew Brees: 6-2
Russell Wilson: 4-4
Tom Brady: 5-3
Aaron Rodgers: 4-4

None of them went 8 – 0. The Bengals know that the situation surrounding the rookie fourth round pick is less than optimal. Thus, I doubt that they are expecting him and the team to go undefeated for the rest of the season.

However, some fans have already expressed that nothing short of perfection will dissuade them from the desire to draft a top college quarterback. But  what do Zac Taylor and the Bengals front office think is enough to ride with Finley next year?

The Bengals are winless and can’t realistically “expect” to win any game right now. However, let’s say the Finley led Bengals sweep the Browns, and beat the Jets and Dolphins. Finley will have a .500 record as the starter. If you are the optimistic kind, throw in wins against the average Raiders and/or Steelers to get the Bengals over .500 under Finley.

If in his starting debut, Finley’s Bengals can somehow defeat the Baltimore Ravens who are fresh off dismantling the Patriots,  fans might be willing to open their mind to the possibility of Finley being more than just a placeholder for a future quarterback.

If Finley’s team can knock off the reigning Super Bowl champs in Week 15, you may even begin to see analysts claiming that Finley was always Taylor’s hand picked quarterback of the future for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Back to reality now, is this the most likely scenario? Absolutely not. Finley is going to have to contend with the same poor offensive line play and defense that contributed to 0-8.

You only have to look at Dwyane Haskins handful of rough outings in Washington to see how even a first round quarterback can fail to meet expectations. He was thrust into action too soon without a good supporting cast.

Similarly, Finley is being thrown into quite possibly the worst starting quarterback circumstances in the league. Jay Morrison of The Athletic shared the following tweet which shows just how bad the situation has gotten.

There has to be some chance that Finley can become the starter. Why bother “seeing what you have” in him otherwise? The Bengals could have let Andy Dalton continue to take the majority of the heat for how poor the offense looks. Now, there is a chance that the only respectable element of the team (the 11th ranked passing offence) could actually get worse if Finley isn’t immediately impactful in a positive way.