The Cincinnati Bengals have to sit and wait for nearly two more weeks to name their next head coach.
If there was any doubt that Zac Taylor was the choice as the successor to Marvin Lewis, they were squashed, as the team didn’t announce Eric Bieniemy would be hired after the Chiefs’ loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
Since the rumors of Taylor becoming the next Bengals coach surfaced (and, for disclaimer purposes, it still hasn’t been made official), conjectures have been made about who his assistants will be once he arrives in The Queen City.
Darrell Bevell was one target for offensive coordinator, but has since landed with Detroit, while Raiders quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan appears to now be the guy for the position.
But, as we all must sit and wait another couple of weeks for the news to become official with Los Angeles heading to Super Bowl LIII, folks are also trying to connect the dots for Taylor’s impending hires. Mike Sherman comes from his family tree and could be in line for a gig, while some believe he could snag his brother, Press Taylor, from the Eagles.
But, if the Callahan reports are true, that would mean Press would come in with a lateral move, should Philadelphia even allow it. Still, through all of the coaching purges, the Bengals have gone through this offseason, quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt appears to have been retained. If he isn’t coming in as offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach, that would make the signing of Press Taylor unlikely, overall.
Confused enough, yet?
Nevertheless, on this week’s episode of The Orange and Black Insider Bengals podcast, we were asked about Press joining Zac on the staff. And, more poignantly, we were asked about his ability to lure a talented Eagles quarterback to Cincinnati.
Things are uncertain for Nick Foles going forward, as he keeps playing well in and leading the team to wins in huge games. Philadelphia lost in the divisional round this year, though Foles had the team in position to beat the Saints in their dome.
There will probably be a slew of suitors for Foles’ services this offseason, as he has had an incredible career resurgence in Philadelphia. Still, his contract structure is absolutely crazy for 2019—the final in a two-year deal he inked last spring.
And, in the offseason of throwing Andy Dalton to the wolves, Foles has become a hot name when it comes to being linked to the Bengals. Essentially, for you math folks, it’s: Zac + Press = Foles to Cincy.
As my esteemed colleague Josh Kirkendall recently noted, Foles actually has a third-year option on the contract noted above. That could throw a monkey wrench into a possible Bengals acquisition of the veteran signal-caller.
Kirkendall also noted that Foles rescued the Eagles when Carson Wentz was out with a back injury and the team was 6-7. He rattled off four straight wins as their starter, including a Wild Card knockout of the Bears in Chicago.
I don’t want to rehash the rest of Kirkendall’s post because it’s great and you don’t need to be force-fed some of the same information. What is interesting is the stat lines and the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of both Dalton and Foles in varying capacities.
For Foles, it’s crazy how different of a quarterback he is in Philadelphia and in the postseason. Away from the Eagles, Foles has 10 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 5-7 record.
However, it’s been a “Philly Special” for Foles, racking up a 25-13 total record, along with 58 touchdowns against 23 interceptions. In the postseason, he’s been near-superhuman. Foles has a 4-2 record in the playoffs, while throwing for 272.2 yards per game, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 98.8 rating.
Dalton has been oddly different in similar scenarios. One could argue he’s been much more productive in the regular season, but it’s in the postseason where he’s shriveled, unlike Foles. Dalton has an 0-4 record with one touchdown and six interceptions.
Where you roll the dice is in the one year away from the Andy Reid/Doug Pedersen systems. In his lone season with the Rams away from those coaches, Foles had a 4-7 record, along with just seven touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
It’s possible that the Taylor brothers would come up with concepts similar to what he’s currently comfortable with in Philadelphia, but if they wander off that path, how will Foles respond? While he’s been great in spot starts, especially in the postseason, is it still a flash-in-the-pan situation?
Perhaps the biggest question is with Dalton and his lack of postseason success. Was it Lewis’ inability to properly prepare the team and have them rise to the occasion that caused the quarterback issues, or were those Bengals teams simply deflated from Dalton’s egregious mistakes throughout some of those crucial contests?
After all, the team didn’t play well in the other contests with Jon Kitna, Carson Palmer and AJ McCarron taking postseason snaps. Chicken-or-the-egg, I suppose.
Regardless, could you imagine if it is Wentz the Eagles would be more willing to part with because of Foles’ knack for winning big games? A surprisingly-scathing report recently surfaced with unnamed Eagles players calling Wentz “selfish” and “uncompromising”. Is that true and enough to push Philadelphia to think about moving the former No. 2 overall pick?
Recently, Cincy Jungle contributor and OBI co-host, John Sheeran, threw out the notion of swapping out current Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, for Ryan Tannehill. It has brought about a lot of negative sentiments from readers and listeners, for a variety of reasons.
Even so, Sheeran’s polarizing plan has some foundations to it. Aside from the Taylor-Tannehill connection from their days together in Miami, there is the long-term play with a move away from Dalton and to Tannehill.
It’s in the netting of picks from a Dalton trade where the sageness of the move resides. Given the talent on the current roster, Cincinnati is too talented to tank far enough to be handed a top-five pick—which is what would be necessary for a franchise-changing signal-caller. So, if the team wants to move up for a blue-chip quarterback, they’ll not only need a solid amount of draft capital, but will also need to have the willingness to part with the picks.
If you’ve been following this team and the NFL landscape recently, there are a couple of truths to come to grips with, as the Taylor era gets ushered in to Cincinnati. First, if a Super Bowl championship is to be had, Cincinnati needs to take note that it takes elite coaching and/or quarterback play to be able to hoist a Lombardi Trophy in this NFL landscape.
For the 16th time in 18 years, a QB named Brady, Manning or Roethlisberger will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/7CoviaDljB— ESPN (@espn) January 21, 2019
Second, the Bengals, at least as of this writing, operate with fewer resources given to its staff. Essentially, they’ll need a generational talent at the most important position in the sport to have a shot at being world champs.
There are outliers to this seemingly-universal truth, though. For every Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning, there is a Brad Johnson or Kerry Collins.
And, perhaps for some, even a Jared Goff.
Sure, he was a No. 1 pick and has played outstanding the past two years, but he struggled mightily as a rookie without Sean McVay, his innovative system and the slew of quality players they surrounded him with the past two offseasons. Yes, we know Goff is on his way to superstardom now, but it hasn’t come without a lot of surrounding assistance. It’s a strategy the Bengals have attempted to employ and a reason Dalton-supporters use for the desire to allow No. 14 a shot under Taylor.
Even with a multitude of issues plaguing the team this past year, A.J. Green was on pace for one of his best seasons as a pro, while Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon each notched their first career 1,000-yard seasons, respectively. While all three figure to be great assets in the team’s makeover in 2019, the addition of other talents on the offensive line and on defense could quickly turn this into a well-rounded team.
So, why shouldn’t Dalton get a shot in Taylor’s new quarterback-friendly system, at least for a bridge year? His contract is more manageable than Tannehill’s current one with Miami (he’s rumored to be cut though, so that would affect the numbers), and Dalton has a great rapport with those aforementioned weapons.
Think back to when Jon Kitna was the incumbent on the roster in 2003 when the team selected Carson Palmer No. 1 overall. They surrounded him with talent, and he responded with a Comeback Player of the Year performance, as the Bengals were one win away from a playoff berth in Marvin Lewis’ first season. Then, the reins were handed over to Palmer, and he spearheaded a new, exciting era of Bengals football.
With some solid additions this offseason and a new system, Dalton could still be a viable temporary option over Tannehill. And, if Taylor brings in other battle-tested coaches, it edifies Dalton’s potential to take his game to the next level.
Then again, if he doesn’t rise to the occasion and the incoming quarterback-friendly changes, he and his biggest supporters will be out of excuses.
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