Kevin Gorman’s Who Runs the North?: Bengals bungle benching of Andy Dalton for a rookie
The AFC North quarterback carousel is complete.
At the beginning of last season, Joe Flacco was starting for the Baltimore Ravens, Andy Dalton for the Cincinnati Bengals, Tyrod Taylor for the Cleveland Browns and Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens benched Flacco, then traded him to Denver. Taylor lost his job to injury, then signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury in Week 2 that required season-ending surgery.
Now, the Bengals have benched Dalton.
And, just as you would imagine, they bungled it.
They didn’t just demote Dalton. They did so on his 32nd birthday.
Bengals benched Andy Dalton on his birthday. Ouch. pic.twitter.com/g9Q0yseAqq
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 29, 2019
The Bengals demoted Dalton after 128 career starts, which produced a 68-58-2 record. They demoted Dalton after he completed 32 of 52 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown without an interception in a 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Wembley Stadium in London. They benched Dalton, despite a dreadful offensive line that has allowed him to be sacked 29 times this season, third-most in the league.
Of course, the Bengals (0-8) do have the worst record in the NFL.
It wasn’t so much the plays that Dalton made that got him benched but rather the ones he didn’t. Dalton threw a touchdown pass to Joe Mixon to tie the game at 10-10 but was sacked on a third-and-10 late in the second quarter, taking the Bengals out of field-goal range while trailing, 17-10. The Bengals also were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 6 when Auden Tate’s catch in the end zone was ruled incomplete upon review.
No wonder he had a career-worst 38.8 rating.
After a bye, rookie Ryan Finley will make his first NFL start against the AFC North-leading Ravens. Finley joins a division that features second-year quarterbacks in Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and the Steelers’ Mason Rudolph. No doubt the team whose signal-caller performs the best will take control.
We know this much with certainty: It won’t be the Bengals.
On a conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if he has anyone who can replicate Lamar Jackson on the scout team: "We don’t have a guy and I don’t know if anyone else in the league has one either. He’s a very talented player with a great skill set that’s unique."
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) October 29, 2019
Highlights: The Bengals benched Dalton, despite a 5-2 career record against the Ravens. Instead of a ninth-year veteran, Baltimore will face a rookie making his starting debut.
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) October 29, 2019
Lowlights: The Ravens rank fifth-worst in the NFL in sacks (12) and were in the market for a pass rusher, but failed to swing a deal at the trade deadline.
Next: The Ravens (5-2) will play host to the New England Patriots (8-0) on Sunday.
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2019
Result: Lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 24-10.
Highlights: Cincinnati ranked last in the league in rushing but gained 104 yards, including 47 yards rushing on a 75-yard scoring drive. Joe Mixon ran for 66 yards and Giovani Bernard 31.
Summary of the Bengals 0-8 start pic.twitter.com/ar87YGBh5S
— JG (@JoeGoodberry) October 28, 2019
Lowlights: The Bengals allowed Rams receiver Cooper Kupp a career day, as he caught seven passes for a career-
best 220 yards and scored a 65-yard touchdown on a double-reverse flea flicker from Jared Goff. Kupp had 165 receiving yards by halftime.
Next: The Bengals (0-8) have a bye, then play host to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 10.
You won’t see a better hustle play in the NFL this year than the Jonathan Jones rundown, strip & forced fumble of Nick Chubb.
JONES WAS ON THE GROUND EARLIER IN THE PLAY…wow, just wow 👇 pic.twitter.com/Aje0Yxrum6
— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) October 28, 2019
Result: Lost to the New England Patriots, 27-13.
— Scott Patsko (@ScottPatsko) October 29, 2019
Highlights: Nick Chubb rushed 20 times for 131 yards, his third 100-yard game of the season. The second-year running back is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 105.4 yards a game.
— The Sports Junky (@TheSportsJunky1) October 27, 2019
Lowlights: Cleveland committed three first-quarter turnovers – Chubb lost a pair of fumbles and Baker Mayfield threw an interception – and the Patriots capitalized for a 17-0 lead.
Next: The Browns (2-5) visit the Denver Broncos (2-6) on Sunday.
.@steelers @Dat_Dude_Nix @JamesConner_ had his best run of the season and his best day in a long while and getting his FB back was a big part. For you #Steeler fans it felt good to see the return of the “I-Formation” #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/knxywBeIGj
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 29, 2019
Result: Beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-14.
Highlights: Fullback Roosevelt Nix returned from a knee injury and the Steelers ran for a season-high 158 yards, as James Conner recorded his first 100-yard rushing game since November 2018. And Mason Rudolph rebounded from a slow start, connecting with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster for touchdown passes.
The Steelers had 17 takeaways in the 18 games prior to acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick
They have 15 takeaways in the 4.5+ games since they got him
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) October 29, 2019
Lowlights: Both Conner (shoulder) and Benny Snell (knee) left the game with injuries, forcing the Steelers to finish with Trey Edmunds. Jaylen Samuels is cleared to return just in time, but he’s coming off arthroscopic knee surgery.
Next: The Steelers (3-4) play host to the Indianapolis Colts (5-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .