Is Zac Taylor the best fit to coach the Bengals?

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The Bengals reportedly want to hire Rams QB coach Zac Taylor. Is that a good idea?

The Cincinnati Bengals may have found their next head coach in Zac Taylor, current quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Rams. Taylor has interviewed with the Bengals and multiple reports have suggested that the team wants to hire him. Most recently, it was reported that the job is Taylor’s to lose, and that he will be hired as soon as the Rams’ season ends, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.

That report calls Taylor “the preferred choice.” If he does indeed get hired, he will be the first new head coach of the Bengals since Marvin Lewis was first hired back in 2003. Lewis was fired following this past season after the team continued to underperform despite core pieces in place at important positions.

Taylor has some familiarity with Cincinnati, as he was previously the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2016. Prior to that, he was an assistant quarterbacks coach with the Miami Dolphins, then an interim offensive coordinator. Taylor was the Rams’ wide receivers coach in 2017 and became their quarterbacks coach in 2018.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons if Taylor were hired by the Bengals.

Pros

  • Third-year quarterback Jared Goff experienced huge amounts of growth from his rookie and sophomore seasons. As a rookie Goff played in seven games, throwing five touchdowns against seven interceptions. In 2017, when Taylor coached receivers, Goff played in 15 games and threw for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Finally, with Taylor as quarterbacks coach, Goff played in 16 games, completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
  • Goff also made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and 2018 with Taylor involved with the offense.
  • Taylor has been considered a rising star in coaching circles, and is among the first to be from the “Sean McVay coaching tree.” That’s said partly in jest, but McVay is already respected as one of the best coaches in the NFL, and Taylor surely has learned a lot from him.
  • McVay has spoken very highly of Taylor in the past, notably in an interview with The MMQB in which he noted Taylor’s strength in game-planning third downs and his willingness to challenge those above him when he disagrees.
  • Taylor is an offensive guy, and he’ll take over a team that still has Andy Dalton at quarterback, as well as guys like Giovani Bernard, Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. There’s a lot to work with on that side of the ball, and Taylor will have every opportunity to prove himself.
  • He’s not Hue Jackson.

Cons

  • Taylor, 35, has coaching experience, but is still a relative unknown. He’s never had a head coaching job and has only had a brief stint as an NFL offensive coordinator.
  • He spent five games as the Dolphins’ interim offensive coordinator, in which the Dolphins went 2-3 and averaged 17 points per game, a bit less than they were averaging under Bill Lazor, who Taylor was replacing.
  • Has only spent time with two separate NFL franchises in his coaching career.
  • Taylor is an offensive-minded coach, which helps on some fronts, but he also will need to address Cincinnati’s league-worst defense in 2018. The Bengals allowed the most yardage and was 30th in the league in points allowed this season.
  • Really, it can’t be overstated just how surprisingly bad the Bengals have been in recent years. They have 19 wins and a tie in their last three seasons, and game up more than 28 points per game in that time frame. There is a lot of dysfunction for a first-year head coach to unravel.
  • It’s unclear what kind of connections he has to build a staff, and is, of course, unproven in that regard (and all aspects of being a head coach).

Truthfully, there aren’t many cons when it comes to potentially hiring Zac Taylor for the Bengals, a franchise that could use some new blood after 16 seasons of Marvin Lewis. Taylor is young, he’s done enough to show he can manage an offense, and there are no glaring holes in his coaching abilities that we know of. As a first-time coach, there is still plenty of risk in bringing him on, but everyone is chasing the Sean McVay dream now, and where better to start than one of his assistants?

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