It is not like there’s data on first time head coaches to help us set our expectations for Zac Taylor. Oh wait, a quick search yielded this article by Ian Hartitz titled, “What to Expect from New NFL Head Coaches, Coordinators Based on Recent History.” How convenient.
Hartitz looked at the average increase in wins for teams with new head coaches over the last five years. Here is what he found:
"Average record before adding a new head coach: 5.6 wins, 10.4 losses.- Average record after adding a new head coach: 7.2 wins, 8.8 losses.- That average increase of 1.7 wins per season is hardly insignificant, and it isn’t a one-year blip on the radar."
I highly recommend reading the full article as it gives a lot of good insight into the mostly positive impact associated with coach/coordinator changes. Something else he notes is how the impact of defensive coordinator changes is not that positive, but it might be skewed by the historically negative impact that Teryl Austin and Paul Gunther had on the Bengals and Raiders respectively last year. So, unless Lou Anarumo repeats the trend of being as historically bad as the Bengals last two defensive coordinators, the Bengals defensive scheme is going to be improved.
History is on the side of this coaching staff. Taylor witnessed firsthand how the mismanaged St. Louis Rams were transformed into the high powered Los Angeles Rams. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was an offensive assistant for the Super Bowl winning Broncos in 2015. Also, Aaron Rodgers’ former quarterback coach Alex Van Pelt has already had a positive impact on quarterback Andy Dalton, helping to develop Dalton’s out of pocket awareness that contributed to the chemistry between him and Tyler Boyd on key plays last season, like the one below from James Rapien on Twitter.
Some people have expressed their concern that this new system will take time to sink in resulting in a slow start for this offense. However, in an appearance on the Bengals Beat Podcast, Solomon Wilcots rightly pointed out that Dalton has learned multiple offenses throughout multiple coordinator changes. Also, he came into the league following an NFL lockout which resulted in Dalton only receiving his playbook only a week before training camp started. Through all of that, Dalton has never failed to learn the playbook in time for the regular season.
So, there is reason for optimism because of the new scheme. Still, that’s not what many people are worried about anyways. This brings us to…