After a disappointing start to his second season at the helm, it’s time to begin questioning if Zac Taylor is losing the Cincinnati Bengals’ locker room.
It should come as no surprise that things are beginning to get dicey in the Queen City after Zac Taylor has begun his head coaching career with a record of 3-17-1. It’s undoubtedly been tense inside the halls of Paul Brown Stadium, but fans got to see the frustration boil over on social media on Friday morning.
Cornerback Darius Philips tweeted out a message (that’s now deleted) stating that his talent shouldn’t be wasted. Linebacker Germaine Pratt as well as safety and team captain Shawn Williams commented on the statement, seemingly signaling that they were on the same page as Philips.
One half of the fan base went into a frenzy while the other half claimed that everything was fine. Philips himself tried to walk the tweet back but there aren’t many other ways to interpret the message he sent out. The trio mentioned above is clearly unhappy with their roles.
Pratt has taken a back seat to rookie Akeem Davis-Gaither recently. After promises that Williams would still be in the fold, he played just 13 defensive snaps last week while free-agent acquisition Vonn Bell took the lion’s share of the snaps. There are rumblings that with Mackenzie Alexander returning to man the slot, Philips could be bounced from the starting lineup because Lashaun Sims could maintain the outside corner position.
All of this on top of the Carlos Dunlap fiasco a week ago. The 11-year veteran aired out his frustrations in a press conference after being demoted in favor of Carl Lawson.
It’s hard to argue with the coaching staff’s decisions
Any time a coaching staff opts to bench long-time starters and team captains, there’s likely cause to question those decisions. However, with the way the defense is playing, it’s hard to argue with their results.
For the first time in a long time, Cincinnati is fielding a capable defense. The football world saw what they were able to do just last week, holding league reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to just 20 points.
Despite a poor outing against the Cleveland Browns in week two, the defense has played well enough to win games. Their performances have earned them the 10th overall spot in Pro Football Focus’ defensive rankings this year. Compared to the unit we saw a year ago, that’s quite the leap.
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo may be ruffling some feathers, but he’s also showing signs of improvement. In that sense, it shouldn’t matter who is starting.
Zac Taylor needs results soon
Zac Taylor was able to keep everybody bought in to the very end a year ago, despite being just 2-14. Again, he was able to convince a bevy of free agents that what he was building was worth being apart of. Convincing the likes of D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes to join the orange and black is no small accomplishment.
However, cracks in the foundation are beginning to pop up. The veterans and captains are beginning to grow bolder in voicing their concerns. Ditto for the fan base.
No matter what side of the fence you sit on, improvement has to come soon if Taylor is going to hang on to his job. Winning solves all, and the club gets their next chance to put this Twitter drama behind them this Sunday as they take on the Indianapolis Colts.