CINCINNATI -- A night of sleep changed Zac Taylor's mind about his quarterback situation.
When the first-year coach's head hit the pillow after the Cincinnati Bengals' 16-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, in his mind, rookie Ryan Finley was still going to be the starter despite a rocky three-game stretch.
After a night to sleep on it, Taylor went back to veteran Andy Dalton, who started the first eight games of this season.
On Monday, Taylor said Dalton gives the 0-11 Bengals the best chance to pick up their first win of 2019. That might be true. But it also signals that barring something unforeseen, the Bengals likely will use a first-round pick on a quarterback in the 2020 draft.
When the Bengals went to Finley, a fourth-round pick in April, they wanted to know what he could provide. Taylor said gauging Finley's ability as an NFL starter was going to be difficult even if he lasted the rest of the season. But one thing is certain: After three games, the Bengals had seen enough.
"Right now, we had to make this decision," Taylor said. "That's what we did, and we're going to move forward with it."
As a starter, Finley completed just 47.1% of his passes and had more turnovers (five) than touchdowns (two). According to NFL Next Gen Stats, his only successful downfield target of 20-plus yards was a one-handed catch by Tyler Boyd in Sunday's loss to the Steelers.
One of the primary objectives of Taylor's first season was determining who was going to be his long-term starting quarterback. Dalton, who has started 128 games in nine seasons, will be a free agent after the 2020 season. When he was benched after Week 8, Dalton said he wants to be a starter next season -- either in Cincinnati or somewhere else.
"I want to have an opportunity to play," Dalton said on Oct. 29. "I want to have an opportunity to be somewhere where I'm wanted. If that's here, great, if that's not, then we'll see."
Dalton will get his chance. Taylor said he doesn't plan on making another quarterback change for the rest of the season. When asked what Dalton needs to show to cement his long-term place on the roster, Taylor said that wasn't anywhere near his mind.
"We just want to win," he said. "Just get us some wins."
But this season isn't just about winning. It's also about establishing a foundation for a floundering franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since 1991, a drought that hasn't gone unnoticed by the fan base. The Bengals are on pace (372,485) for their lowest home attendance since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000.
The solution to both of those problems could hinge on a quarterback selected with the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. During Sunday's home game against the Steelers, a stadium filled with fans wearing black and yellow also featured a sign that said, "Let's Grow With Joe," a reference to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, an Ohio native and Heisman candidate.
A lot still needs to happen for the Bengals to take Burrow, including a scouting process that will ramp up in the spring. But after two QB changes in the span of four weeks, Taylor and the front office have indicated their future quarterback will not arrive until the spring.