The Bengals have continued their frustrating tradition of being bystanders in free agency this year. It now falls on head coach Zac Taylor to make the best of a bad situation.
The draft still lays ahead and the second wave of free agency may present a chance to add a player or two. However, we know that the 2019 Bengals will look a lot like last year’s team, at least on paper.
Last year’s squad only posted six wins. Still, with a brand new coaching staff in place for the first time in nearly 20 years and the organization preaching a “New Dey” on social media, there was reason for optimism heading in to free agency. It was all talk. So far, the organization has done what it always has, bring back players who contributed to last year’s disappointment while bringing in very few or no fresh faces from the outside.
The short lived optimism has been replaced by justified anger from fans, but what’s done is done. With a large portion of last year’s team coming back, the obvious question becomes how can anyone possibly expect improvement in 2019?
As obvious as the question is, apart from nailing the draft, the answer is less so. It falls at the feet of first year and first time head coach Zac Taylor. No matter the situation, it is an incredible achievement just to be one of 32 head coaches in the NFL. Still, Taylor’s situation is not enviable. Even though he may say differently publicly, you know Taylor would have loved to get his hands on some of the free agents that have already found new homes, but owner Mike Brown simply refuses to spend big money.
Working for Mike Brown is not easy because of that. Marvin Lewis did it very well for the vast majority of his 16 year tenure, even though it lasted a little too long. However, most of Taylor’s staff have not even been coordinators for any significant length of time. Taylor himself also has that distinction. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but Lewis had been around the NFL for a long time before getting his shot in Cincinnati.
No matter what happens between now and the start of the season, Taylor and this inexperienced staff will be handed a roster with massive shortcomings. There is no such thing as the perfect NFL roster, but ownership and executives above Taylor have done him no favors since his hiring. The signing of B.W. Webb for secondary depth does nothing to improve a defense that was bottom five in every major statistical category last year. The patchwork offensive line remains untouched.
The bottom line is Taylor may or may not be a good NFL head coach. As it stands right now, we will never know. He is being setup to fail. Also, there is nothing to suggest the Browns, Ravens, and Steelers won’t be tough outs at the very least in 2019. Perhaps the only saving grace for the 35 year old upstart is that like his predecessors, he will be given time to make things work in Cincinnati. In the meantime, fans can do nothing but prepare for more suffering, which is sad. The last few days have driven home the fact that the problem in Cincinnati has never been the coaches, it goes higher up.
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