Bengals, Zac Taylor have a lot of convincing to do this offseason
Now that the Cincinnati Bengals have officially retained head coach Zac Taylor, they enter an offseason where they’ll have to do a lot of convincing.
Despite last-minute rumors suggesting head coach Zac Taylor’s job may not be safe, the Cincinnati Bengals have officially decided to retain the 37-year-old coach. Owner Mike Brown delivered the news with an accompanying message, stating the franchise was “bullish” on the foundation Taylor is building and promised to deliver winning results next year.
The Bengals face a difficult path back to contending within their division, a fact that would remain true regardless of which direction they chose to go. After all, they find themselves in the uber-competitive AFC North that saw three out of four teams reach double-digit wins and earn playoff appearances.
Clearly, Cincinnati has a lot of work ahead of them, both this offseason and beyond. With reinforcements desperately needed, both Taylor and the front office are going to have to put together their best sale pitches to convince the proper talent to join the ranks of the franchise.
What the Bengals have working against them
Although Brown and the rest of the front office are bullish on Taylor’s foundation, chances are, not many throughout the rest of the football landscape are. There are numerous factors casting doubt over the notion that the organization can turn things around under Taylor’s watch.
For starters, look no further than the young coach’s record. 6-25-1 across two seasons is historically bad. Every other team that employed head coaches with similar results is currently looking for a new candidate to take the helm. Cincinnati better prepare a heck of an explanation for prospective assistants and players as to why Taylor is any different than the coaches searching for a different gig.
Beyond a bad track record, the state of the roster isn’t easy to sell either. Two of the Bengals’ best defenders are set to hit the open market (Carl Lawson/William Jackson III) and the trenches, both offensive and defensive, are an utter mess. Not to mention, a number of other position groups could use an upgrade.
They’ll need to present a clear plan to address these concerns to any coaches looking to take on the roles that are expected to be vacated in the coming week. Then, a lot of money will have to be thrown around to convince players on the open market to overlook their shortcomings and continue their career in the Queen City.
What the Bengals have working for them
Joe Burrow. Every conversation with every prospective coach or player should begin and end with number nine. He’s a star that proved capable of covering many of the Bengals’ flaws before falling victim to injury and his future is incredibly bright.
Beyond their stellar signal-caller, there’s other talent to point to, especially skill-position wise. Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon are proven commodities. Tee Higgins just put together a rookie season similar to A.J. Green’s first year, a promising development. Perhaps best of all, Cincinnati has a legitimate claim to being home of the league’s best safety, Jessie Bates III.
The club also has more potential to add talent via free agency and the draft than most. They’re owners of a top-five overall selection with quarterback-needy teams ahead of them, meaning they’re in a position to snag one of the top-three non-quarterback prospects.
Plus, the Bengals are projected to have $35M in cap space with the ability to increase their spending power significantly, should they decide to move on from underperforming veterans.
All in all, Cincinnati has the resources at its disposal to take a significant leap. The problem is, they can only sell this potential to coaches they hope to add. Then, they’ll have to find other factors to lure players in free agency.
It’s a do or die season for Zac Taylor and the Bengals
A year ago, Cincinnati had an exciting young coach and added a Heisman winning signal-caller. They leaned on these two facts as a way to energize the fan base.
With the 2020 campaign ending in shambles, the optimism surrounding this new direction has taken a hit. The Bengals have little room for error and will be forced to make significant moves to get WhoDey Nation to buy in once more.
It’s a tall task, but not one that’s impossible. As the offseason begins, the orange and black faithful will soon find out if Taylor and co. are up to accomplishing it.