Two Biggest Ways Zac Taylor Must be Different From Marvin Lewis
Last year’s home loss to Pittsburgh was gut wrenching for a Bengals team that was 4-1 going into it. It also is the best example of how Zac Taylor’s Bengals must be different from teams under the previous regime.
Apart from injuries, Cincinnati’s 28-21 home loss to Pittsburgh on October 14th was the turning point last year. The Bengals only won two more games the rest of the year after this loss.
For some reason, the game was on the NFL Network the other day and I watched. Two things cost Cincinnati the game and they both have to do with general coaching philosophy. We can only hope Zac Taylor and his staff does the two things Marvin Lewis didn’t on October 14th.
Play to strengths
This was a problem throughout the Lewis era. Things that worked for the offense one minute would inexplicably disappear the next. The best thing about last year’s Bengals was AFC leading rusher Joe Mixon. However, in the tight game referenced above, Mixon only got 11 carries. It is impossible to understand.
Worse yet, Mixon averaged almost six yards a carry in that game. That is more than enough to control the clock and keep a high powered offense like Pittsburgh on the sideline, but the Bengals went away from it for some reason. The Bengals entire offseason under Taylor seems to be building towards a run based offense with a heavy reliance on play action passing. Only time will tell, but the 2019 Bengals need to avoid under use of their best offensive weapon.
The game from last October was tied at the half. Cincinnati took the second half kickoff to the Pittsburgh 40 yard line. The Bengals faced a 4th and 1. They elected to punt. Would Lewis have gotten roasted if his team had gone for it and failed? Yes, but that is the nature of coaching in the NFL. His strategy of punting the ball and playing defense didn’t pan out. The Steelers drove down and got a field goal anyway.
In today’s NFL, you have to take advantage of every chance to score points. Fourth and a yard on the plus 40 yard line in a tie game is an opportunity. Too often, Lewis played “not to lose,” Taylor must play to win. The good news is if the recent public rumblings from A.J. Green and other players prove true, come September this will not be an issue.