Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been benched for the next game. Listen to his reaction to that decision by head coach Zac Taylor.

Marcus Musings: Bengals make the right call, draft thoughts, CFB observations and more

Another weekend has snuck up on us, but there’s still time to do some opining before another glorious round of football action envelops us. Here are some thoughts for you to chew on in between snaps: 

  • I’m confused by the people complaining the Bengals didn’t try to trade Andy Dalton before benching him. There isn’t much reason to think anyone would want him so this seems like a pointless thing to worry about (unless you are him, of course). Getting benched on one’s birthday is pretty ruthless, but he hasn’t done much to prove he deserves the job since he hurt his thumb at the end of the 2015 season. The last game against the Rams he did some of his best work of the season, but he continued to make critical errors that cost his team points so it’s time to try something else. I don’t expect him to necessarily even play at a Pro Bowl level with his lack of support, but he can’t be holding them back, either, and he has been this season. 
  • I doubt Ryan Finley is going to raise the likelihood the Bengals win a game, but they do need to evaluate everyone they’ve got to know what else they need to get in the offseason. 
  • I am not big on tanking or having to shackle your franchise to a first-round quarterback, which is why I’ve viewed the past two years with extra dismay as the Bengals have mismanaged an opportunity to get good again without being truly bad (as the Reds did before them) or using too much draft capital on one guy. 
  • For all the hype, Tua Tagoviola is not really a sure-thing top 10 pick. Joe Burrow would make a great story since he’s from Ohio and he’s got the type of take-charge attitude the Bengals need badly (I suspect he would be the opposite of Dalton in the locker room), but I still want to see him close out the year strong before I think he is a No. 1-pick-type of guy. If the Bengals finish with the No. 1 pick - and I think they will - they need to take Chase Young and not look back. Finley looking decent in these last eight games would make that easier to do, of course. He might also take them out of the running for the No. 1 pick, but that would be worth it in the long run. 
  • You don’t have to have a great quarterback to win a Super Bowl, but if you don’t have a great quarterback you do need a great roster. If you have a great quarterback, he can cover up a few holes on your roster, too. That is something Dalton has never done, which is why I am OK with taking a step back at that position to see if you can take a few steps forward. 
  • If you can maintain a good or better roster, you can get by mixing and matching a little bit at quarterback. On the flip side, if you have a great quarterback you can get by with having some roster shortcomings. See the Packers and Seahawks. Which would you prefer? They are both preferable to where the Bengals are right now. 
  • Getting something positive out of Finley would also be an indication maybe this coaching staff isn’t as bad as it has looked so far, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. READ MORE: Bengals coach Zac Taylor on benching Andy Dalton for rookie QB: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got until you see it’
  • The Bengals looked like a real offense to start the game in London, displaying good blocking, game planning and execution. The blocking and execution were so bad the first seven weeks I haven’t developed much of an opinion of the game planning so far, but maybe there is some hope after all, at least on that side of the ball. The defense has been and remains a complete disaster. The Rams seemed to have little trouble getting the ball to people in open spaces all afternoon, and that was nothing new. The Bengals need more talent on defense, but they also seem to be very easy to game plan against as teams are good at getting them out of position every week. 
  • Meanwhile, Ohio State has looked superbly prepared every week on both sides of the ball. The offense always seems to have a couple of things cooked up for the scheme they are facing, and the defense is a Swiss Army knife with multiple different personnel packages to deal with whatever the opposing offense’s strength might be. Speaks well for the new head coach, eh? 
  • Ohio State-Wisconsin went about exactly as I expected. The Badgers are a good team, but they don’t have the athletes to hang with the Buckeyes. However, Ohio State beat them up worse on the line of scrimmage than I thought they would. 
  • The biggest development in the Michigan-Notre Dame game was Michigan’s offensive line finding itself. We shall see if the Wolverines can maintain it the rest of the way, but that changes a lot of equations for Michigan’s offense. Shea Patterson will probably never be a consistent good decision-maker but a lot less falls on him if they can run the ball and he just has to make complementary throws (which is why they ran the offense that way last year...). Also worth noting: Michigan has mixed up coverages more on defense the last two weeks after living and dying in man coverage last season. 
  • I’ve been a big Oregon skeptic for like 15 years but I have to admit I enjoyed watching them play Washington State last week. They are physical, their running back is explosive and I can see the raw talent that makes people like their quarterback. 
  • When replay returned to the NFL, they said only indisputably wrong calls would be overturned and there would be a time limit for the reviews. Neither of these things has proven to be true, so here’s an idea for fixing replay (and perhaps improving officiating overall): Only overturn indisputably wrong calls and limit the length of reviews. 
  • Lastly, the people treating Deadspin’s death as some sort of tragedy for journalism are not making a lot of sense to me, either. Looks long overdue to me, particularly if people actually think what they were doing was journalism in the first place. Private equity firms like the site’s new owners (as with Sports Illustrated) may be vampires destroying the news industry, but that seems only tangentially related here because Deadspin generally was not a news site so much as a daily opinion dump on popular things its writers were too cool to like or too “smart” to appreciate. In the case of Deadspin, how it died it less important than it being gone. Few if any sites did more to create the toxic culture of negativity and hate that defines the internet today. I’d say the world is a better place now that it’s (essentially) gone, but that genie is obviously out of the bottle and there is no shortage of people wishing to carry on its hate throughout the web. (Yes, I get caught up in it myself at times, even in these columns, but they are also a small part of what I do in a given week.)

“Marcus Musings” is a semi-regular feature here at the blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions on various stories permeating the sports world and (hopefully) have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook.   

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