There are six head coaching vacancies (at the time of this article) across the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals head coaching job is filled – at least for another season.
Bengals owner Mike Brown announced on Monday that Zac Taylor will remain the team’s head coach for what is going to be his third season. There were rumbling that Taylor could be on the hot seat after another disappointing season. The 4-11-1 Bengals finished last in the AFC North by a wide margin for the second-consecutive year under Taylor. The second-year coach has compiled a 6-25-1 record in two seasons at the helm.
During his end-of-year press conference, Taylor expressed gratitude for the team keeping him aboard for a third season.
“That’s enormous, I do appreciate that. Ownership has always been supportive. We communicate on a constant basis, which is critical in this league. And so, I do appreciate that because we do feel like we’re close to turning the corner,” Taylor said. “We have to win a lot more football games. There’s no doubt about that. We’re not running from that, but certainly we’re all excited to continue to great things here and looking forward to next season already.”
Despite being tied for the fifth-worst record in the league and finishing as the only team in the AFC North with a losing record, Taylor, the front office and players believe the team is not too far away from seriously competing in the division. Winning two of the final three regular-season games with a depleted roster gave the team a dose of confidence and confirmation that they are heading in the right direction.
“Just the growth that we’ve seen in our players and in our staff. This league you’re always going to deal with injuries and what that gave us an opportunity was to see a lot of players that were maybe sitting at No. 2 or No. 3 on the depth chart when the season started. It gave us a great opportunity to build for the future. I do look forward to getting a lot of guys back that are key parts of this thing,” Taylor said. “One important thing is this league is that your key players play and unfortunately for us we suffered some injuries at some key positions. Excited to get them back in the building, but also excited for the depth that we’ve developed over the course of this season and feel like we’re gonna have a strong roster going forward.”
One of the main reasons why the front office elected to retain Taylor is because of his relationship with the players in the locker room. Players share Taylor’s vision for the future. Offensive and defensive leaders have publicly advocated for the 37-year-old head coach and are optimistic about the direction of the franchise.
“I’m excited Zac’s coming back,” Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “We believe in what he’s trying to build here and excited for another year and we’re going to keep taking steps forward to get where we want to be.”
Another Bengals leader, wide receiver Tyler Boyd, echoed Hubbard’s sentiments.
“I believe in him. Our relationship has been built a lot the last few years and I believe in what he has in store for us,” Boyd said. “I think he’s the right guy for the job. We just have to find a way to keep guys on the field.
“He’s a player’s coach. He relates to everybody in different ways. He feels for guys and he’s not just a hardcore, smash-mouth, hard-a** coach who just gets on you. He’s going to coach you to the best of his ability and make sure you get better. He understands how to practice and how to scheme different teams. He knows a lot. He’s a great offensive coach. He knows so much, and I trust him and this offense. I feel like we can be the best offense next year.”
Taylor, several players and the front office are optimistic that once all their key players return to health the squad will be much improved and will be able to contend in the AFC North. There’s hopeful talk emanating out of the team’s facility, however, they are going to have to prove it on the field when next season rolls around.