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Cincinnati Bengals: Locker room starting to change their tune on Zac Taylor

Glenn Adams
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor looks on from the sideline in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 2 game between the Chicago Bears and the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. The Bears held on to a halftime lead for a 20-17 win over the Bengals.Cincinnati Bengals At Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor looks on from the sideline in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 2 game between the Chicago Bears and the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. The Bears held on to a halftime lead for a 20-17 win over the Bengals.Cincinnati Bengals At Chicago Bears /
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This offseason, there was a positive mindset when it came to the direction Zac Taylor was taking the team. Things might be changing on that front for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Not that long ago, there seemed to be a united front in the locker room when it came to having confidence in the third-year head coach. The belief in Taylor was at an all-time high — For some reason.

Taylor already dealt with locker room strife last year. At the time, he denied there were issues and so did the players.

Later, Taylor was able to purge the locker-room of nonbelievers and malcontents. He brought in his guys through free agency and the draft. Everyone was rowing in the same direction.

There may now be a few oars not in sync with the rest.

Recent comments to the media from Jessie Bates, Joe Burrow, and star rookie receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, have some wondering if Taylor is on dangerous ground?

On the Hear that Podcast Growlin’ podcast, Jay Morrison of The Athletic says:

"This is the second week in a row that you’ve had a player kinda of question the head coach. The decision. You know, it was the decision to go for it on fourth down last week. Jessie Bates saying he was pissed off. Didn’t like the call at all. Now you got Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow, two influential voices on offense kinda questioning Zac. There’s something to it… This is what we’re going to do. It’s eventually going to work and it didn’t eventually work."

Here is your daily reminder that Bates was not signed to an extension. Another story, another day.

Nevertheless, it was all good just a week ago.

The good vibes might be waining for the Cincinnati Bengals locker room.

As Morrison pointed out, Burrow made some comments that come off as questioning the offense’s strategy and aggressiveness. It was also clear that he was trying not to say anything controversial.

When Chase stepped to the podium, there was no misunderstanding. He thought the team could have been more aggressive.

During his press conference, he mentioned several times they did not capitalize on opportunities. When asked about the corners sitting on routes, Chase responded, “Oh definitely. They were doing that the whole game. We knew that. We knew that.”

Then when asked about taking more chances down the field, Chase said, “We should’ve been doing that, honestly. We waited until the last minute to take shots. We knew they were sitting the whole game. I was telling Joe. Tee knew. We just got to capitalize on the stuff we see earlier in the game.”

Nothing too scathing, though the frustration was evident.

The Bengals are 1-1 on the season, which is something they have in common with the rest of the AFC North. However, it does seem that they are more on the brink of having their season in the balance than the other clubs.

Of course, we should not overreact. Post-game press conferences coming from the losing team can be a bit testy. Emotions can run high. The defeat is still fresh. Things may get said which need to be clarified after watching the film. It is not a good thing that players are expressing some of the same frustrations that fans had.

Furthermore, it is a bad sign that some things that resemble criticism have come from the locker room in back-to-back weeks.

Hopefully, Taylor and his offensive staff take heed. We should also hope that the defensive players do not run on the offensive players. That would not be good for the coaching staff or the players. That does not seem to be a problem for now. Criticism of the game plan and strategy is coming from both sides of the ball.

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The cure-all is winning, of course. We should hope that the Bengals go on a bit of a winning streak. If so, all will be water under the Roebling Suspension Bridge. If the wins do not come, however, Taylor’s seat may turn from hot to infernal. And the players may be the ones turning up the heat.

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