Zac Taylor could on the hot seat despite Bengals record
If you would have told me before the season started that in week 14 Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals would be 7-6 and fighting for a playoff spot I would be happy. But I wouldn’t know any of the contexts of what has happened this season.
The Bengals were looking great seven weeks in sitting at 5-2. Arguably the Bengals should’ve been at least 6-1 with that wild game against Green Bay. However, the next two games in weeks 8 and 9 before the bye were terrible. Week 8 they dropped a game to the floundering Jets and first-time starter Mike White.
It’s one of those losses that everyone knew would come back to haunt them at the end of the season. An in-conference loss to a bad team, I know it’s Any Given Sunday, but you have to win those games. Then in week 9, everyone hoped they could bounce back. It was going to be a tough in-division rival but still winnable.
Instead, the Bengals came out flat and looked like they were still standing dazed after getting knocked by the Jets. After the bye week, the Bengals were still fighting for a playoff spot. They turned it around and won two in a row.
Yes, it was against the Raiders who were in unfortunate shambles. and the Steelers who they had already beat earlier in the season but they looked like a new and invigorated team who was ready to make a run for the playoffs.
Then the past two weeks, they get pushed around by the Chargers and only almost beat the 49ers with some late-game heroics from Joe Burrow.
So the question must be asked:
If the Bengals lose out or at least do not win enough to make the playoffs, is Zac Taylor fired?
Yes, the Bengals have improved from last season. The Defense is far better, but the O-Line is still having issues. The offense (Taylor’s specialty) is always starting slow and in cases of the Chargers game too slow to come back. With the teams they have left they cannot afford the slow starts.
With such promise that the Bengals have shown this season, missing the playoffs will become unacceptable for fans and the front office. Maybe not before the season, but the Bengals have shown they can go toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the league, even in a loaded AFC they have the ability to make the playoffs.
Not only is the inconsistency an issue but so is Taylor’s play calling. The latest one to stick out is Taylor’s call in OT to take the ball out of Burrow’s hot hand, then settling for a field goal as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic points out:
"There’s no way around it. He didn’t let his best player win the game.“You know,” Taylor started, taking a long pause filled with tense reality. “Yep. Yep. I agree with you. That’s one that will keep you up at night. We have a quarterback that can win us a lot of games, and there’s maybe one more pass instead of a run there. Sure, if we hit the run, I feel great about it. But we didn’t. And so then you go back to hindsight, and I’m sure I’ll feel a lot of that tonight.”"
This is just the latest example. So many times this year I’ve seen play calls on third down where the Bengals don’t run any routes past the first down marker or not running routes into the end zone on a third and goal. Do they just assume they’ll get the yards?
With a tough schedule remaining and having dropped out of the playoffs so they do not control their own destiny. If the Bengals continue to lose it could result in Taylor being fired.
What do you think? Will Zac Taylor be on his way out after this season?