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Coaching Hot Seat: Should The Bengals Enter Damage Control Mode?

With Zac Taylor sitting at a 4-23-1 record as a head coach, the Cincinnati Bengals could enter damage control mode to rebuild.

The case against Firing Zac Taylor

A run of bad  injury luck

Zac Taylor has had a run of bad luck with incontrollable factors during his early head coaching career. This has been capped off with the season ending injury of promising rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. While Burrow is the most impactful, there has also been injuries limiting time from Joe Mixon, Jonah Williams, AJ Green, Geno Atkins, Mike Daniels, Mike Thomas, Darius Phillips, Sam Hubbard and Xavier Su’a-Filo, to name a few. Having this many impactful players out during the first few years is a tall order to overcome for any coach.

Rebuilding takes time

Oversimplifying things, a rebuild does not just happen over night. Most rebuilds take years to really take hold and turn around a franchise, especially when the ownership is known for not spending money in free agency. Look no further than the 49ers for a good example of these two points. With Kyle Shanahan as the new head coach, the team had some major injuries to their quarterback and some star defensive players. Even with a solid roster built around that position, San Francisco has had two losing seasons, followed by a Super Bowl appearance.  Obviously the records were slightly better than the two-win season a year ago, but it does show that year three can be a better judge of what we really have.

Do not start a coaching carrousel

One of the most common issues seen with NFL and NCAA teams is the inability to build and maintain stability. Core examples of this are the Cleveland Browns, and Florida State Seminoles. Since 1999 there have been 12 head coaches in 23 seasons for the Browns. This has lead to a hindrance of development for young quarterbacks  in Cleveland.  Another thought would be that a head coach worth hiring may see the instability, and quickness to move on as a deterrent from going to the team. Asking a young quarterback to learn a new system every year or two, along with losing out on top coaching talent is a fast track back to the 1990s for Cincinnati. Giving Taylor one more year and finishing out his contract can help to further develop young players and show that Cincinnati is committed to whomever they hire having a fair chance.

The Bengals have done some things right in the last year or so

Cincinnati was finally active in free agency this past offseason, although some of that money has proven not to be well spent. Still, at least the franchise is no longer largely ignoring free agency. The Bengals have a franchise quarterback, a massive piece of the puzzle for any NFL team. Burrow throwing the ball to guys like Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd is enough to make defensive coordinators sweat. Cincinnati will also be in a prime position to improve the offensive line via the draft.

The case for firing Zac Taylor

None of it matters if Zac Taylor stays

Players know when a head coach doesn’t know what he is doing. Taylor tries to say everything is fine at the podium each day, it isn’t hard to see what’s going on. The 4-23-1 record, reports of a lost locker room and Sunday’s ugly display in Miami all fit. Taylor appears to have no control over a team seeming to run wild.

The toxic culture

A report from Elise Jesse of Sports Illustrated suggests the Bengals culture is “toxic” with Taylor at the helm. While his intentions are good, what is being created under the current regime at Paul Brown Stadium is far from a dream environment of trust and cohesion. Instead, sources tell All Bengals that it is the exact opposite.

Taylor has said on numerous occasions that the players are “buying in” to his vision, and while some players agree with him publicly, that is not quite the case behind the scenes.

Sources say defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is unapproachable. They add that he regularly uses abusive language and commonly calls players “dumb mother f—ers” and “dumb b—-es”.

They say Anarumo has created an environment where communication and accountability are scarce. He often yells at one player for mistakes and chooses to ignore the mistakes of other players in his favor.

Conclusion

Nothing more needs to be seen. The Bengals made an awful head coaching hire in Taylor. The tricky thing for any front office, is admitting they were wrong on a coach or player and correcting it before the damage done is irreversible.

Moving on from something that isn’t working is an aspect the Bengals have always struggled with the organization seems to be slowly changing its ways. However, all of it is contentious if they don’t make a change on the sidelines for 2021.

 

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