Keeping up with the Bengals right now is a bit of a daily soap opera. As more and more news surfaces, we have tried to keep up with it all on our podcast.
Usually, when a new coach takes over an NFL team, they get a small handful of years to mold the roster into their image and attempt to make a championship run. Most teams tend to give a new coach that coveted three-year window, but in today’s cutthroat business world that’s not always the case (see: Cardinals, Steve Wilks).
As the reins seem to have all but officially been handed over to Zac Taylor in Cincinnati, the Bengals keep shedding assistant coaches from the previous regime. And with it comes questions on if it’s too much, too soon.
For instance, running back Joe Mixon, who had a breakout year on a decimated roster in 2018, vented some frustration on Twitter about the departure of offensive line coach, Frank Pollack. While it’s a small example and one that could be an outlier of locker room sentiments on current happenings, it is worth noting.
If Taylor is indeed the guy for the Bengals’ job, he does so with sort of an in-career handicap. Whether it’s in free agency or the draft, the organization has not operated the same way as other successful NFL franchises.
In fact, if we are to take Lewis’ long tenure as an example, Cincinnati’s coaching staff is relied upon more heavily in the college scouting process. There will undoubtedly be a little bit of a learning curve in this regard with Taylor’s new staff.
Additionally, when massive staffing changes occur in any organization, learning curves are bound to occur. If Taylor is the guy for the Bengals, they are hoping for a Sean McVay-type of immediate effect, but that is extremely rare.
“I personally wanted a full, sweeping coaching change the past couple of seasons, ever since that playoff game against the Steelers,” John Sheeran said on this week’s Orange and Black Insider episode. “I wanted a complete reset from Marvin Lewis—that’s the key word ‘reset’—that’s the button that’s being pressed, it’s not a re-tool.”
For those who have been around these parts for a while, it’s widely-known that Bengals fans are a mix of passionate, cynical and impatient. It’s why the luster of a long-coveted new regime could lose its luster if growing pains occur with so much staff turnover in one offseason.
“The last three years they tried to re-tool with Marvin and Andy (Dalton), without using heavy free agency and coaching philosophies,” Sheeran continued. “Now that’s kind of happening. So, yeah, it’s probably not going to lead to immediate success in 2019, and the roster isn’t fully there.”
My concern is that a toxic mix of a staff overhaul, a new coach who has never headed up a squad at the college or NFL ranks and a potential new quarterback could lead to the masses breaking out the pitchforks and torches early than they should be wielded.
This is going to be a very different-looking team than what we’ve seen over the past years, but it will probably take time before it resembles a playoff-caliber team once again. After three years of losing football ushered in by an embarrassing postseason loss to their bitter rivals, can the players and fans handle the frustrations?
We also had other areas of concern that needed addressing this week:
- While the Bengals (and some of their fans) believe they found “their guy” in Zac Taylor, there is risk in the need to wait for the Rams to exit the playoffs in one form or another. Are they missing out on valuable assistant coaches by not being able to announce the signing?
- On the Ryan Tannehill rumors, could he actually have a high amount of success with a coach he has previously worked with, and in the talented skill positions the Bengals employ?
- Shouldn’t Andy Dalton get a shot to work under a progressive-thinking, offensive-minded head coach before being thrown on the scrap heap?
- Whether the Bengals stick with Dalton or move for Tannehill, both are long-term plays for generational talents in the next couple of draft classes.
- Could Zac Taylor bring in his brother, Press, from the Eagles, as well as one of their quarterbacks? Philadelphia is in a double-edged sword position of having two starting-caliber quarterbacks on their roster at the moment.
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