Cincinnati Bengals: Taylor era hits the ground running with a key injury and a bad track
By Steve Rivera
Zac Taylor and his Cincinnati Bengals had a tough opening weekend of training camp. The rookie head coach saw a key player go down to injury and some questionable field conditions.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had a weekend he’d probably rather forget. An ankle injury to desperately needed A.J. Green and a bad practice field was his introduction to coaching in the Queen City. While the injury is expected to keep Green sidelined for 6-8 weeks, it’s not the end of the season either.
Things won’t come easy in Cincinnati this season. Wins will be earned as readily as losses may be expected.
Taylor, who was in Los Angeles with the Rams last season, has some real-time experience with a front line player going down. LA lost wide receiver Cooper Kupp for the balance of the season after Week 8 and running back Todd Gurley in Week 16 and Week 17. Gurley was effectively out as well for the NFC Championship Game as well as limited in the Super Bowl.
Losing a player the caliber of Green is critical. Talent is relatively thin for the Bengals, and if Green is hampered beyond the ”6-8 weeks”, NFL football could be a tough watch in Cincinnati.
The Bengals need to have a lot of things break their way in 2019. Without the benefit of a regular-season game played, Taylor is already behind the 8-ball. One upside is that Cincinnati has been down this road before, and a veteran quarterback like Andy Dalton has seen injuries cause a season to go sideways.
Tyler Boyd will be the guy all eyes will settle on. After a solid 2018 campaign, he’s the receiver who’ll see the targets increase until Green is back on the field. However, after Boyd, it’s anybody’s guess who emerges as a trusted pass catcher for Dalton and the Bengals.
As I said, things won’t come easy this season in Cincinnati. If Taylor can keep the Bengals competitive through September they will have a chance. If not, his rookie season as a head coach will have been tougher than anticipated.