From conservative play calls to questionable fourth-down gambles. How should Zac Taylor be evaluated five weeks into the season?
It's been a big question mark from the looks of it. Taylor is the guy who takes most of the heat after losses and as a coach more often than not that is the way it goes. But not every struggle the Cincinnati Bengals have gone through falls on his shoulders.
As the offensive play caller, the calls on fourth down this season have been one of the things that have stuck out the most. If he kicks a field goal, does the Sunday night matchup with the Ravens end differently? Possibly. But that hasn't been the only one all season that has wound up haunting the Bengals in the long run of their losses.
Joe Burrow has not blinked and is still taking accountability on his shoulders which is common for him to do and he makes some extremely valid facts. In his Wednesday press conference, he explained when Jeremy Rauch of FOX asked a very plausible question.
Joe Burrow went on to explain it in even more depth and he makes some fascinating points. It falls all into one as an offense. Yes, Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan need to dial up more complex plays but at the same time, the offensive line needs to be able to hold up long enough for these plays to develop.
Burrow has to be able to make the correct reads, and Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Hayden Hurst need to be able to create consistent space off of the line of scrimmage and run the play the way it is designed.
Also, it is very hard to run in-depth plays when the run game has been struggling as it has been up until Sunday night. If the run game isn't working then defenses can play the offense completely different than if it is effective.
When the run game is working defenses are forced to stack the box to be able to stop it, which takes defenders out of the secondary. When the run game is non-existent it gives them the ability to drop back into coverage even more which makes it a lot harder for the wide receivers to get open going down the field. They all feed off each other. Each piece of the puzzle has to fit correctly or it will remain incomplete. Last year, the Bengals had all phases of the offense click at the same time and we saw what that led to.
Zac Taylor needs to be better in the play-calling aspect. The players need to be able to execute on a consistent basis and the defense needs to be able to get stops when they are needed. Taylor has done a great job at forming this team and bringing these guys together. The culture has completely shifted in Cincinnati and Zac Taylor is a big part of that change.