Bengals: Zac Taylor evokes Ted Lasso in presser comments about Eli Apple
It’s a long shot, but one could make the argument that the Cincinnati Bengals are the AFC Richmond of the NFL.
Which would make Zac Taylor…Ted Lasso?
We said it was a long shot.
But in a recent presser, Taylor alluded to something very Ted Lasso-ian when he spoke about cornerback Eli Apple’s performance in the last few games:
"“Eli is the starting corner right now and those other guys have roles that they start to work their way into. He does what we ask him to do…I don’t know who’s got him under fire. We expect our guys to play at a high level and Eli’s got a short memory, you know, if you give up a play that corners are going to give up he does a great job putting that away and moving onto the next play and that’s critical. It’s one of the hardest positions to play in all of football.”"
If you didn’t catch it, it’s fine. The allusion is buried pretty deep in there.
In Season 1, Ted Lasso tells one of his players (who has just made a mistake): “You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a 10 second memory. Be a goldfish.”
Praising Apple for having a “short memory” would be a very Ted Lasso-ian thing to do, with an emphasis on moving past mental blocks and overcoming adversity.
Kind of sounds like the Bengals’ current situation.
Following a 5-2 start to the season, Cincinnati are now 5-4 and in third place in the AFC North.
Their most recent losses to the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns crushed any emergent identity that was in the making, and heading into their matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, it feels like Cincinnati is back at square one.
Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor maintains faith in current roster heading into Week 11 vs. Las Vegas
The Bengals’ cornerback unit, in particular, could be one factor in the team’s regressing form this season. With starting corner Trae Waynes still on injured reserve after suffering an injury in Week 5, Eli Apple has gotten recent starts alongside Chidobe Awuzie.
But Apple has struggled in one-on-one coverage and tackling, as seen in Cincinnati’s Week 9 loss to Cleveland. In that game, Apple was the most to blame for allowing receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones to run past him in the middle of the field and complete a 60-yard touchdown reception.
In nine games this season, Apple has 30 tackles and three passes defended, but his blown assignments have been especially hard to forget.
Cincinnati have since acquired corners Tre Flowers and Vernon Hargreaves III on waivers who could complete with Apple for defensive snaps.
For now, though, Taylor seems to trust the sixth-year pro and his next-play mentality.
It’s not quite the overzealous optimism that Ted Lasso exudes in every coaching moment, but apart from Lasso obviously being fictional, Taylor and Lasso may have more in common that most people think.
Taylor is from Oklahoma. Lasso is from Kansas City. Taylor was, at the time, hired to coach a bottom-feeder team in the AFC North. Lasso was hired to coach a bottom-feeder team in the Premier League.
Sure, one coaches soccer, the other coaches football — tomato, tomahto.
The crux of any coaching career, no matter the sport, lies in the emotional arc. Win-loss (and tie) records are important, too, but to watch a team gradually rise or fall in the course of a season?
That’s the stuff of epic sports stories.
Coming out of the BYE, all Bengals players would do well to heed Lasso’s/ Taylor’s advice. Be like goldfish, and put the two-game losing streak far behind them.
What this Bengals team also needs to do is written in black letters on orange construction paper taped above the door: BELIEVE.