The Cincinnati Bengals have done the unthinkable this season, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps time and time again to win games. With the franchise now only one victory away from its first Lombardi, there’s a cautious eye being placed on head coach Zac Taylor.
In now his third season as the leading man for the Bengals, Taylor has gotten them to improve each step of the way. In 2019, Cincinnati picked up only two wins but saw a small jump in those wins the following season, nabbing four victories. This year, they’ve turned into juggernauts with the help of quarterback Joe Burrow, running back Joe Mixon, and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase leading the way.
But while they’ve managed to make fools out of oddsmakers time and time again, Taylor has seemed gun shy on the sidelines at times. In all three playoff games thus far, we can point to conservative play calling and we aren’t the only ones who’s noticed.
Zac Taylor has been conservative all postseason long
With the Las Vegas Raiders coming into their backyard in the Wild Card Game, the Bengals held a healthy seven-point lead with the ball in their hands in the fourth with only a few minutes remaining. Taylor though, seemed to sweat profusely as he made numerous puzzling calls from the sidelines. First, the Bengals head coach called a run play for Mixon which lost two yards. Burrow then completed a one-yard pass to Chase on their second down. To wrap up that drive, Burrow managed to get only seven yards to tight end C.J. Uzomah before punting the ball. Luckily for Taylor, their defense saved the day, picking off Derek Carr on the final drive.
Against the Tennessee Titans on enemy territory the following week, Taylor never instructed Burrow to push the ball down the field and instead, settled for field goals. The standout coach was a bit more aggressive in his play-calling against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game but it took the Bengals falling behind by 18 before he opened up the playbook.
With the Rams fired up and loaded with uber-talented offensive players all over the field, such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp, Taylor will find his club down by a lot in a hurry if he isn’t aggressive early and often.