For the first time in recent memory the Bengals didn't name a starting quarterback the Wednesday before a game when head coach Zac Taylor wouldn't confirm reports that he has turned to Brandon Allen for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Fox 19) at Paul Brown Stadium against the Giants.
Which means the first time Allen meets the Cincinnati media as a group is on Sunday's post-game Zoom if he indeed gets the nod over Ryan Finley and makes his Bengals debut and fourth NFL start.
After Wednesday's practice Taylor ventured that "maybe," he has already made the decision on whom makes the first start since Joe Burrow's season-ending left knee injury in Washington last Sunday.
"Which one gives us the best chance to win. That's the bottom line," Taylor said. "We always do what's best for the team and you know not every decision is easy but again we're always going to try to put our team in the best position."
Here's the Bengals book on the 6-2, 209-pound Allen. He's not overpowering physically, but he's got grounded fundamentals and a good enough feel for the game that he's able to stay in the pocket. It helps he's got a quick release.
"He's got experience in the system. That's why he's here, played a lot of football over the course of high school career, college career, done a really good job," Taylor said. "Really, the same with Finley. You know Finley was a three-year starter in college as well and he's got two years experience in the system, so we feel like we got two guys that know this system very well and could lead us to victory."
The Bengals have had Allen on the practice squad since he signed at the start of training camp and while he has been at practices, they've tried to keep their quarterback room free of COVID by making sure he isolated by always taking his meetings virtually.
As Allen told Bengals.com when he signed, there isn't anything he hasn't done since he came into the league out of Arkansas in 2016:
Drafted. (Sixth-round in 2016 by Jacksonville.) Waived. (By the Jags and Rams.) Claimed. (By the Rams and Broncos.) Cut and signed to the practice squad. (By the Rams.) No. 3 QB (Rams). Backup QB (Broncos.) Winning starter (for the Broncos against the Browns.) Losing starter (for the Broncos against the Vikings and Bills.) Signed as a free agent. (By the Bengals.)
It was with the Rams Allen worked in this offense during the two seasons Taylor was in Los Angles and when he went to the Kyle Shanahan-influenced Denver offense in 2019.
"Since (Taylor is) a former quarterback I think he does a very good job explaining to the quarterback what he wants to see out of the offense," Allen told Bengals.com back in August. "He does a great job of kind of being in the mind of the quarterback and seeing what we see. I think that's the best thing he does. But he's also got a great personality where he can get a whole team to buy into his philosophy."
Allen's got something Burrow doesn't have. When he made his three NFL starts last season for the Broncos as the bridge guy between Joe Flacco and Drew Lock, one of them was a 24-19 win over Cleveland with in which he had a 125 passer rating.
Finley, a fourth-round pick in 2019 out of North Carolina State, started three losses last year in which the Bengals scored 33 points. He had a 0 passer rating on three of 10 passing and interception while getting sacked four times in relief of Burrow.
The last the Bengals started three quarterbacks in the same season was 2002 with Gus Frerrote, Akili Smith and Jon Kitna.