Bengals: Zac Taylor deserves more credit for Joe Burrow’s fast start
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has been taking a lot of heat this season, but he deserves credit for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow’s fast start.
Leading up to the 2020 NFL draft, Joe Burrow was often praised for his pro-readiness. The reigning Heisman was known for his intense preparation and high football IQ, which boded well for a quick transition into the pros. However, even the most optimistic supporters of the LSU product probably didn’t envision a start quite this impressive.
While the overall team success of the Cincinnati Bengals has been lackluster, Burrow has proven himself worthy of the first overall selection and then some. Through the first quarter of the season, he’s completing 65.5% of his passes. That’s good for 1,121 yards and six touchdowns to just two interceptions, one of which was to no fault of his own.
Burrow is the first rookie quarterback to throw for over 300 yards in three consecutive games, no small feat. Mind you, he’s done this under unprecedented circumstances, including zero preseason games. While a lot of his success has to do with his mental makeup and preparation, head coach Zac Taylor deserves a lot of credit as well.
Joe Burrow details pre-game meeting with Zac Taylor
Perhaps Burrow’s fast start can be attributed to the play-calling that has put him in his most comfortable schemes. In a postgame press conference, the rookie signal-caller detailed a weekly Saturday night meeting with his head coach,
"“I think Zac [Taylor] has done a great job of asking what I’m comfortable with and calling those plays. He understands what I like in certain situations. We have a meeting the night before every week… I go through my top three calls in every situation that we have and he calls them 1,2,3.”"
The play-calling, especially in the red-zone, has been a hot button topic both this season and last. As far as the 2020 campaign goes, it’s reasonable to question if the playbook has been slightly limited to start off in order to ensure Burrow is comfortable. If that’s the case, it could be the reason for the predictability and inefficiency in the money zone.
In the week four win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, WhoDey nation got a look at a bit of an expanded playbook, which opened up plenty of opportunities in both the run and pass game. As Burrow gets more comfortable in various situations, look for the offense to get more creative as well.
Overall, it’s been a disappointing start to the 2020 slate for the Bengals and there are some legitimate criticisms of Zac Taylor. However, Burrow doesn’t have the start he’s had without the help of Taylor. As the two further build their chemistry, Cincinnati should only get better at closing out the tightly contested games.