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What Zac Taylor Said About Andy Dalton's Return As The Bengals' Starting Quarterback

190915-Taylor-Zac_news_conference (AP)


Head coach

Initial comments ...

"Just quickly, on the injury front, Alex Redmond tore his bicep yesterday in pregame warmups, so he was out for the game. He did that in warmups, and he's out for the remainder of the season. Cethan Carter had a concussion, so he'll go through the protocol this week. It's what we went through last week with Auden Tate. We'll see where he's at, day-to-day. If he can clear that protocol, we'll see how that goes. Those are the two major (injuries) that came up during the game. There was some other minor stuff that occurred. We'll limit some guys through the week, but for the most part, those are the two major ones.

"The big decision coming for today is that we're going to go back to Andy Dalton at quarterback. It's been tough. Both of those guys (Dalton and Ryan Finley), over the course of the season ... it's not an easy decision any time we've had to make it, which has been twice this year. It's in the best interest of this football team to do this and get Andy back out there. We're going to face some good defenses these next couple of weeks. They present a lot of challenges and we feel like he's going to give us the opportunity to win the game. That's a decision we settled on this morning."

 What is the biggest reason for the quarterback change?

       "I don't think it was every too much for (Finley). We've obviously had our challenges on offense, really regardless of who is playing quarterback. You can always say it wasn't fair to either one of those guys in the times they've gotten pulled. You've heard my thoughts on, 'You need to give a rookie some time to play.' As I really sleep on it and think through it, Andy gives us a great chance to go win a game. Ryan has done the things we've asked him to do. It's hard. It's hard to be a rookie quarterback in this league, and he still has a really bright future here. We want to explain to him, 'This doesn't change your future with us.' It's been a tough stretch, and it's going to continue to be a tough stretch this year. We know that. We just had to make that decision to put Andy back in there."

Is Dalton's status as the starting quarterback on a week-to-week basis, or will he start the final five games?

       "I think I've put my foot in my mouth enough with timelines over the last four months (laughs). Any time you make a decision, you're trying to make it for the long term of the season. I think I'd be foolish to make any comments like that."

Is the decision based on the notion that Dalton gives the team the best chance to win?

       "Yeah, we just want to win. That veteran presence he has will certainly be helpful through all the things we've been experiencing so far on offense. He has great experience. Again, we're facing a challenging coordinator this week who has a lot of experience in this league at really challenging guys. Andy will help us prepare for that. We've always known Andy is a great quarterback. We made the change for the reasons we needed to. It's time to give him another opportunity."

Dalton is a quick decision maker. Did that factor into this decision?

       "It's not entirely possible to say. There were some challenges yesterday where, as you go back and watch the film, (Finley) was getting hit a few times and couldn't finish his throws. That didn't look as obvious on the sidelines as it does when you watch the tape. Again, any time this happens, you're not blaming the quarterback for what's going on. It's just that we felt like this is what we need to do right now. It's hard because there have been challenges for anybody that's been back there, especially this last game. We had some opportunities down the field. Sometimes you have a guy in your face or you're getting hit. Those things have been challenges for us."

Does this quarterback decision have implications for future seasons?

       "We're going to approach this week. We're just focused on the Jets and what we need to do to win a game. The other stuff takes care of itself later. Right now, this decision is to help us beat New York."

Some people might say that you're playing yourself out of the No. 1 pick. What would your response be?

       "I'll let those people say that. We just want to win."

Did you need to mend your relationship with Dalton after the first quarterback switch?

       "Andy and I have had many, many, many conversations since all that happened, before and after. We've been on the same page. Andy has handled it as well as you could hope any veteran would. He wants to play and feels like he can help the team win. At the same time, he was still a leader for us. He went about things the right way when he wasn't the starting quarterback. He and I have always had a relationship where we can be open with each other. We appreciate that, and now we're relying on him to help us win games, and he's going to take that on."

After making this switch, do you feel like you run the risk of losing the locker room?

       "The team has understood everything we've done up to this point. I always have an open door for those guys to come up and talk. There have been times throughout the season where players have felt like they needed to, they have, and they know that I'm going to be open with them. I feel like we're in a good place with the locker room, and we have been throughout the whole season."

Does the increased effectiveness of the running game help Dalton resume his role?

       "Yeah, it's a quarterback's best friend, especially now that we've found a little bit of a rhythm there. It helps anybody who's playing. That's certainly a positive that's going to help him as we move forward."

Will Dalton's return affect WR A.J. Green's return timeline?

       "I don't believe it has any effect specific to who's playing quarterback. A.J. is just trying to get to a point where he's feels comfortable going out there and playing in a game. So far, he hasn't felt that."

What's the plan for Green's practice participation this week?

       "Day-to-day. We'll see. I don't want to make any comments. Two days from now, it's hard to say. Tomorrow, he may say, 'I can go,' or he may say he cannot. No comment on that one yet."

Dalton's return and Green's injury are two separate issues, correct?


How would you evaluate Finley's last three games?

       "The whole unit needs to do a better job of helping any quarterback we have out there. The hard thing is to see the accuracy percentage that doesn't paint the picture of what happened. You go back and watch every incompletion and there aren't a lot of quarterbacks that are going to complete some of those balls, to be quite frank with you. That part is difficult. It's a tough situation for any quarterback to be in right now. We're all facing challenges. When you score as few points as we have, really throughout the whole season, it's on the whole unit to step up and do its job better to help everybody and play up to their full potential."

What is your evaluation of Finley's pocket awareness?

       "It's been fine. One of those strip sacks for a fumble yesterday was a screen. He was sitting there double clutching because he's waiting. That's a tough one for a quarterback. You're anticipating throwing a screen, and all of a sudden the guard gets tackled by the defensive lineman, and now the running back gets caught up. Then he gets hit and fumbles, and that's a tough one. The last one, you need to be better with the ball when you're in the pocket. He's moved around well and felt the pressure and escaped when he needed to. He tried to find some plays down the field and there weren't always guys open down the field. He did a lot of things we were hoping he'd do in that regard."

How can you compare Dalton and Finley, given that they will have played with different personnel combinations?

       "You can't. You don't. You just need to make the decision, be confident in it, move forward and know that it's in the best interest of the team and hope that everyone is going to rally round it. We're going to go out and get ourselves a win. If you try to measure everything that's happened to us over the course of the season and measure this versus that, you need to throw it all out the window and just make a decision and go with it."

Do you have an ample grasp on Finley's capabilities after his three games in the starting quarterback role?

       "I wouldn't say fully. It's hard. I made that statement before and I've defended young quarterbacks as loudly as I could. I don't think you will ever know fully after three game, maybe through eight games, what you have. Right now, we had to make this decision. That's what we did, and we're going to move forward with it."

Did you make the decision to swap quarterbacks by yourself?

       "I certainly measure everything the coaching staff has to say, but it's my decision."

How much conversation do you have with Bengals president Mike Brown and director of player personnel Duke Tobin when you're making this decision?

       "I want them to know everything we're thinking. They're on board with everything we've decided to do as a coaching staff."

Was there a thought to turn to Jake Dolegala at quarterback?


Will Dolegala still be the third-string quarterback?


Did any veterans on the team come forth and request that Dalton return to the starting quarterback role?

       "Not specifically about that, no. The leadership has really stepped up over the last five or six weeks in a lot of different areas. I've seen a lot of improvements from a lot of different areas. It's encouraging. There are some things we're going to have to continue to rely on and build upon as we build this thing. The leadership, if you want to look at it over the scope of the season, has gotten stronger. That's certainly an encouraging thing for us."

Is HB Joe Mixon and emotional leader on this team?

       "He certainly is passionate about winning and getting everybody to play to their full potential. He's been great. It's certainly been a frustrating season for him as well in the run game. We got it started and it's gotten better lately. He's one of those guys you can rely on that it's important to him. He makes sure it's important to everybody. Guys do it for him because he's a playmaker. We knew going into that game that it was a really good defense. There were some ugly runs that he got us out of and turned them into some good plays. He got us some momentum there in some of those stretches. He's certainly someone we can rely on. When he's speaks, people listen."

Did OT Cordy Glenn perform as you expected?

       "I thought he played well. He gave up a pressure at the end of the game, but for his first game back, he did a nice job over there."

Given Dalton's personality, is it easier to name him starting quarterback again?

       "It just speaks to his character. It was hard for him to hear that we made the change initially. Being the person that he is, he was someone I could communicate with over the last few weeks. He didn't just turn a cold shoulder to me. He was in it to win. During the games, he comes up to me with thoughts that he has from his perspective. I'm thankful we had a guy like that to be in that position and now to turn back to. I expect him to lead us and do some great things for this offense."

How did Dalton respond to the news that he was renamed starting quarterback?

       "He's ready to answer the bell. He's happy to get another opportunity. He was there for Ryan. He tried to help Ryan as best he could. We were fortunate to have him in that position and now he's ready to go again."

Do you expect Dalton to start the final five games?


How did Finley handle the quarterback switch?

       "As you would expect. He's a competitor. He wants every opportunity. It's hard to hear. He still has a future here. It doesn't change how I feel about him. It's just necessary for what we need to do right now."

What do you wish Finley would have done better?

       "It's hard. You can plug a lot of guys in there and it's not going to be that much of a different outcome the way that those games played out. There were opportunities that every position missed, quarterback included. Receivers, running backs, linemen, tight ends — everybody played a part in it. (The quarterback) is the easiest one to see when you make a change or want to point a finger. That's why I will always maintain that it's the toughest position in sports — best they're going to take all the heat and they're going to take all the credit. It's on everybody. There's nothing specific that I would say to answer that question."

Did the offensive line improve since the first matchup with Pittsburgh?

       "We didn't give up as many sacks. We went into it knowing we weren't going to drop back and throw it nearly as much. There are certainly some improvements we can make coming out of that game. I'm not going to heap a ton of praise on them. There were some good moments from them, but there are also some things we need to improve on as a unit."

Do varying offensive line combinations make things difficult?

       "It's not easy. In the run game and in protections, passing off all the twists, it's certainly been a challenge. Some games have been better than others. It's just something you need to continue to work through. The guys that are out there need to get all the reps during practice and make sure we're on the same page."

Is WR John Ross III still on target to play on Dec. 8 at Cleveland?


Did Redmond injure his bicep while blocking during pregame warmups?

       "I don't know. We don't videotape that. It was, I think, the last rep he was in. I was standing right there as he came off and he was grabbing his arm. I could tell it was pretty significant. It was literally as we ran into the tunnel following the last kick we have. I just knew he was out, and then learned after the game that he's out for the year."

Do you think Green will play a game this year?

       "I don't want to make any predictions. I've done that before, and we know where it gets me. I do think that he wants to play. I know that he wants to play and that he's doing everything he can to get back on the field. He's trying, and he's just trying to make sure he feels confident and feels right. I'm very confident that, when that time comes, if he can play, he'll play."

Is surgery necessary for Redmond?

       "I think he's having surgery sometime this week."

What do you want to see out of Dalton in the final five games?

       "Just win. We just want to win. Just get us some wins."