In order to save first overall pick Joe Burrow’s career, the Bengals need to cut ties with head coach Zac Taylor before it’s too late.
The Zac Taylor experiment has been a failure for the Cincinnati Bengals. While the excitement of having a new head coach for the first time in over a decade made Taylor a fan favorite early on, a 2-16-1 start has shown that he is not the right guy for the job.
Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has looked deserving of the first overall pick the Bengals spent on him by playing like a veteran in his first three career starts. Unfortunately, Taylor has not been able to capitalize on his new quarterback’s great start and has instead blundered away opportunities to come away with a win week in and week out.
While it’s still early in the season, Taylor’s trend of blowing close games is becoming very concerning. Starting 0-2-1 on the season in games that were all within one score, Taylor’s career record in one-score games has fallen to 0-10-1. That’s no longer a coincidence.
For a franchise that believes they have a Super Bowl quarterback in Burrow, a coach who can’t seem to win a close game simply will not cut it.
Zac Taylor’s handling of the offensive line
Not only does Taylor have a winless record in close games, but he has made a number of mistakes in his management of the roster. First of all, he spent an entire offseason doubling down on an offensive line that has now shown itself to be among the worst in the league, if not the very worst.
When he was brought to Cincinnati, Taylor chose to let offensive line guru Frank Pollack walk and replaced him with the controversial Jim Turner. Since then, he has put little effort into improving the offensive line.
In two drafts, he has only spent one pick in the first three rounds on the offensive trenches. Because of these personnel blunders on the line, Burrow has been sacked 14 times in three games, the highest total in the NFL. Taylor’s failure on the offensive line has set Burrow up to fail.
Zac Taylor has let a talented group of playmakers go underutilized
Additionally, Taylor has completely mismanaged what should be one of the best groups of weapons in the NFL.
The only offensive weapon that Taylor been able to consistently get production from is wide receiver Tyler Boyd. His offense has been unable to get much from newly extended running back Joe Mixon on the ground and refused to use him in the passing game.
He has made both Auden Tate and John Ross healthy scratches for a game while keeping Alex Erickson and Mike Thomas active. In week three, he only targeted the tight ends twice against an Eagles defense that allowed four touchdowns to the position in two weeks. Finally, A.J. Green looks to be struggling in his offense.
Taylor was brought to Cincinnati to be an offensive guru, so what’s the problem? Perhaps he was never the offensive guru the Bengals thought he was.
He spent four years in Miami, working his way up from assistant quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. From there, he was the University of Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator for a year. Finally, he spent two years with the Los Angeles Rams as the assistant wide receivers coach and then quarterbacks coach in Sean McVay’s offense.
It has now become evident that McVay was the sole driving force behind that offense and that Taylor was never the offensive guru he was touted to be when being brought into Cincinnati.
He’s an offensive coach, but Taylor deserves some blame for the defense too
On defense, Taylor has let Lou Anarumo run the show. In 19 games, Anarumo’s defense has varied from mediocre to terrible, but has never shown signs of being a top defense in the league. Taylor seemingly failed again by putting his faith in the former New York Giants defensive backs coach.
Overall, Taylor has shown little reason for optimism in 19 games with the Bengals. Going 2-14 in his first year, he led the Bengals to the worst record in the league. After the front office provided him with the most expensive group of free agents in franchise history, a franchise quarterback, and multiple more talented rookies, he has still failed to improve.
Burrow has shown himself to be the future of the franchise after just three games, but if Taylor is allowed to remain in Cincinnati much longer, the Bengals could have another Carson Palmer situation on their hands.
The Bengals need to be proactive this time and move on from Taylor before it is too late for Burrow. The former Heisman winner has the talent to take the Bengals to the top, and they would be foolish to waste his rookie contract on a head coach who appears to be in over his head.