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The big question about Zac Taylor

Working under the brightest young mind in the NFL is one of the biggest positives on Zac Taylor’s résumé, but there’s a justifiable sense of uncertainty with that as well.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the success of a new head coach is rough. Many of the things that make a head coach successful are hard to see from a distance.

For the Bengals, some people are concerned about the fact that the man they intend to hire, Zac Taylor, did not call plays and was not the offensive coordinator. Even if he was the offensive coordinator, what would worry me about Taylor is exactly what excites me about him: Sean McVay.

Everyone wants the next McVay, just ask Twitter. McVay has a great football mind and turned the Rams around in a hurry. He took Jared Goff, who looked terrible in his rookie season and has made him into one of the most effective passers in the league. In only his second year in Los Angeles, McVay has made the Rams into a Super Bowl favorite.

The question is: can this be duplicated? NFL teams surely hope so.

There is no track record for McVay’s coaches. If Eric Bieniemy were hired as the head coach of the Bengals, people could feel somewhat comforted by the fact that Andy Reid’s last two offensive coordinators were successful as head coaches pretty quickly. But as McVay put it: “I’m too young to have a coaching tree.”

With McVay, all we have to look at is new Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s uninspiring year as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. We just don’t know enough of what McVay’s assistants can do on their own, not yet anyways.

That is the roll of the dice that the Packers have taken and the Bengals wish to take. What exactly is going on in Los Angeles? Has McVay assembled a great group of offensive minds around him or is he just, to borrow a term from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, a “genius with 1,000 helpers”?

McVay calls the plays for the Rams. Not only that, he communicates directly with Goff until the in helmet headset cuts out with 15 seconds left on the play clock. Albeit impressive, this fact makes one seriously wonder about the role of the quarterbacks coach (Taylor 2018 or LeFleur 2017).

Don’t get me wrong — this is not a doom and gloom article. I am optimistic about the Taylor hire. Only those inside of the Rams organization truly know the contributions that he has made and only Mike Brown, the Blackburns, and Duke Tobin know what his plans are for making the Bengals great.

And that is the problem with head coaching hires. It is hard to see from the outside who has what it takes to be a great head coach.