Bengals: Zac Taylor has to prove he’s qualified to be a head coach

Leigh Oleszczak
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor calls a play in the second quarter of a Week 4 NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.Jacksonville Jaguars At Cincinnati Bengals Oct 4
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor calls a play in the second quarter of a Week 4 NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.Jacksonville Jaguars At Cincinnati Bengals Oct 4 /
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Recently, an article from Sports Illustrated surfaced where a former NFL executive was quoted as saying that Cincinnati Bengals‘ head coach Zac Taylor is ‘not qualified to be a head coach’.

James Rapien was the author of the article and here were the comments, which came from Michael Lombardi (a former NFL general manager):

"“Tremendous hot seat. This year at the draft it basically came down to (Penei) Sewell or (Ja’Marr) Chase from LSU and basically they let the coach pick him. Mike Brown’s not going to go another year,” Lombardi said on VSIN. “Zac Taylor’s performance as a Bengals head coach is worse than David Shula. That was really bad. I mean really, really, really, really, really bad. And this is worse. And Zac’s not qualified to be head coach of the team. I’m not sure Zac Taylor’s qualified to be the head coach of the University of Cincinnati, let alone the Bengals. All due respect to Zac Taylor, but let’s just call a spade a spade here.“When you have a job that’s harder to get than United States Senator, there’s only 52 of those and you have a job that’s harder to get than that, you have to bring certain credentials to the table. Zac doesn’t bring any credentials and the offense has gotten worse. If you bet on Zac Taylor, we’re a betting network, why would you ever bet on him? He’s demonstrated nothing in terms of managing the team, managing the game. I think that seats hot. I think it’s red, red, red hot.”"

Oof. That’s some harsh criticism there and it’s hard to blame anyone for saying this about Taylor, who has won just six games in two seasons as the Bengals’ head coach. At the same time, Taylor is the head coach in one of the toughest divisions in the league and that results in six difficult games every year.

Is Zac Taylor qualified to be the Bengals’ head coach?

So far, it hasn’t gone well for Taylor during his tenure in Cincinnati and that’s not really up for debate. Yes, the AFC North is difficult but the Ravens smoked Cincinnati in both games last year showing how far ahead of the Bengals they are.

At the same time, the Bengals put up tough fights against the Browns in both games and beat the Steelers late in the year without Joe Burrow. Taylor deserves credit for that.

As far as the Chase over Sewell situation, I know we’re all tired of hearing about it, but it was a head-scratching decision by the Bengals. They had a clear need along their offensive line and chose to add a player at a position that didn’t really need to be addressed. It’s easy to see why outsiders might look at that decision and chalk it up to Taylor making a bad decision.

Everyone knows that Taylor is on the hot seat this year so this isn’t exactly news. At the same time, however, this is the same organization that kept Marvin Lewis as their head coach for well over a decade despite some rough times. Maybe they’ll give Taylor more than enough opportunities to prove he’s the right guy for the job.

Comparing Taylor to David Shula is a big statement but some might agree with Lombardi’s sentiment. The former Bengals head coach was the man in charge for five years and went 19-52 during that time, never posting a winning record in a single season. Even Shula got five years to try and make something happen — Taylor might not get that same chance.

Taylor now has to prove that he’s the head coach of the Bengals for a reason. The Bengals hired him because of the job he did with Jared Goff during the 2018 season as the Rams’ quarterback coach and Taylor has a chance to really help Joe Burrow grow during his second year as an NFL quarterback. Losing Burrow near the end of the 2020 season didn’t help the Bengals’ case, though they did beat the Steelers without him.

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This could be it for Taylor as the head coach for the Bengals but it doesn’t have to be. If he can take advantage of Cincinnati’s manageable early-season schedule and get some wins, maybe he can save his job and remain as the head coach past 2021. He now has even more incentive to do so.

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