3 questions Bengals must answer in week 15 vs Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Question No. 1: Can Zac Taylor Adjust?

It’s been hard to fault Zac Taylor based on the Bengals’ current position in relation to the rest of the AFC. There have been a lot of high points in a season many thought could be Taylor’s last. However, how does that relate to Cincinnati’s fortunes moving forward?

Zac Taylor has shown a great deal of growth as a coach and play-caller in his third season, so much so that the Bengals boast one of the more potent offenses in the NFL. However, the problem that remains is, can he adjust his play-calling and mindset quickly enough to counter what the opposition is doing to avoid getting in a hole, as they did the last two weeks.

Against the San Francisco 49ers, Taylor got outcoached, plain and simple. Kyle Shanahan, knowing full well he didn’t have the secondary to counter the potent Bengal air attack, presented a cover 2 defense, daring the Bengals to run. When they obliged, Shanahan relied on a fast, athletic linebacking corp to fill the rush lanes and shut down the run.

This strategy worked like a charm for three quarters until the Bengals were so far behind they had to resort to throwing. Not coincidentally, when that happened in the fourth quarter, the Bengals dominated. Why didn’t Taylor recognize the strategy and adjust sooner?

The Bengals came out of the half, received the ball, and promptly ran it three times and punted. It shouldn’t have taken three full quarters for Taylor to recognize what the Niners were doing on defense.

Bottom line is, the Bengals staff is going to have to identify what the defense is up to, come up with a counter, and roll from there. Alternately, they could just let Joe Burrow call his own plays and go from there. Worked pretty well for Peyton Manning, right?