Cincinnati Bengals: Resting starters may be tough this exhibition season
By Steve Rivera
It is hard to see a scenario where Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor can rest his starters for the entire preseason. While injuries are a concern, waiting until Week 1 to see what the team can do could be a recipe for disaster.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor may not have some of the luxuries other coaches in the NFL have. For instance, the Los Angeles Rams, where Taylor was a year ago, will likely rest all their top-line players as the exhibition season kicks off this week.
Then again, Taylor has done a good job channeling his inner Sean McVay. Already the first-year head coach seems at ease with the media, has a calm locker room that is player-centric, and is content to see where the road takes him at key positions. By all accounts, Cincinnati may one day shape up to be LA East, and for Bengals fans, that won’t be a terrible thing.
However, while McVay has a good idea about his team on the field, especially entering his third season, Taylor doesn’t. In Cincinnati, it’s very much a work in progress. Waiting to see his first unit on the field in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks may be four weeks too late.
The downside? Well, it’s many. Injuries are always a concern, and four meaningless games in August aren’t viewed as anything less than disastrous if a starter goes down. Already, the Bengals have lost a rookie offensive linemen and two wide receivers on the side of the ball Cincinnati needs big things from.
It’s logical to think the Bengals may follow a more traditional route in the preseason. In Year One of the Taylor era, real-time game experience will be important for players like quarterback Andy Dalton and his new offense. Timing with running back Joe Mixon, who already sees parallels with the Rams is key, as is getting time with the receivers.
One caveat to all this may be the state of the offensive line. With concerns about how well it may or may not be able to perform, trying to keep Dalton healthy will be a concern.
Taylor has a lot of questions needing answers. Trying to find them all in September could be a recipe for disaster. Then again, so could treating the preseason like a regular-season game.