Some of you will hate me for this. I’d imagine most of you already do. I frankly don’t care. Rip me a new one in the comments section. Email me your hate, I could always use a good laugh.
Jim Turner is bad, and he was always bad.
From the minute he was hired as the Bengals’ offensive line coach, Jim Turner was a bad hire. When he was suspended by Texas A&M for being sexist at a football clinic, Jim Turner was bad. When he was fired by the Miami Dolphins for partaking in and allowing “BullyGate”, which ultimately led to a three-year stretch of unemployment, Jim Turner was bad. When he failed to put together a quality line in Miami and similarly failed to develop quality players at Texas A&M when he was first with the program from 2008-2011, Jim Turner was undoubtedly, and undeniably, bad.
None of this mattered for Zac Taylor and the Bengals when they hired him in February, and his reputation has worsened more than it’s been enhanced since then. He was an integral reason why Bobby Hart, one of the worst right tackles in all of football, was not only re-signed, but was also given a notable raise in the process. Signing John Miller in free agency and drafting Jonah Williams seemed to counter this inexcusable decision to some degree, but things would only get worse from there.
Once offseason programs began, offensive lineman started retiring left and right. First it was Clint Boling, who was dealing with a career-threatening blood clot in his system; pretty much and open and shut case to be fair, and no blame could be bestowed upon Turner.
Then the preseason rolls around and Kent Perkins decides to retire. This was when Williams had been injured for over a month and Cincinnati’s tackle depth was getting thin. Why did Perkins leave the team? Obviously he wasn’t fully committed to hanging up the cleats because he was recently drafted by the St. Louis BattleHawks to play in the XFL.
About a week later, Christian Westerman is mysteriously not playing. He decides to retire out of the blue as well. Like Perkins, Westerman later had a change of heart and returned to the team a week later. He was cut soon after that, but the suspicion only grew louder.
Why did two backup lineman, on a team that had maybe three established starters along the offensive line, decide to leave the team only to return to the sport in some way shape or form? A lack of opportunity? In need of a fresh start? A frustration with the new position coach? No reason can be fairly dismissed.
In-between all of this were the signings of John Jerry and Andre Smith, both of whom have had their share of ups and downs this year. Smith coming back for the third time since his initial departure after 2015 is more of an indictment on the front office. But John Jerry? The last time he played any football was in 2017, and even then he wasn’t playing very well. Now he’s the answer to Boling’s retirement?
In fairness, Jerry hasn’t been terrible after spending an entire year on his couch, but even in late June, he was far from the best option the team could’ve turned to when they needed another body. He was signed because of his familiarity with Turner and Taylor, which sounds a lot like Smith and other acquisitions the franchise has made in the past.
Finally, we get to Cordy Glenn.
On Wednesday, Taylor announced that Glenn had been cleared to practice for the first time since he self-reported a concussion two months prior in the middle of the preseason. In his first practice back, the mood shifted from promising to catastrophic.
Glenn and an unnamed coach got into a heated argument—one that nearly turned physical—over the timing of Glenn’s return to the field. Glenn, the man who has been dealing with literal brain damage for several weeks, was being berated by his coach, whom has not been dealing with such ailments, for taking so long to come back to work. Remove the traditional tough-minded football tropes from your mind and realize how ridiculous the coach sounds in that scenario.
The coach and the Bengals appear to be on the same side, as the team fined Glenn $200,000 for conduct detrimental to the team. Essentially, they believe Glenn was biding his time to return and the team felt he was able to come back long before he did. As a response, Glenn reportedly asked to be cut from the team for being pressured to come back earlier than he felt he should.
We’re not pointing fingers here, but we can make an educated guess as to which coach was the one to get into it with Glenn. It wouldn’t be the first time Turner berated one of his players for standing by a personal decision he didn’t agree with.
The situation with Glenn has spiraled out of control and if he ever plays for the Bengals again, it’ll be an absolute miracle. At this point, no one should want Glenn to incur more brain damage for an organization that would treat him like this, whether or not they believe from their own viewpoint he was ready to play again.
And all of this really starts with Taylor. When asked about his offensive line coach that he’s known for years, Taylor stood up for him once more:
I did ask Zac Taylor if he stands by the way Jim Turner has handled every element of the Cordy Glenn situation and he offered a definitive yes. FWIW, Taylor has stood on the table for Turner every step of the way since the moment he was hired.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) October 17, 2019
When asked about Perkins and Westerman leaving the team back in August, he had a response to that as well:
“Every issue has been completely separate,” Taylor said. “Every situation has been so unique. None of them I can really talk about. I can’t get into their personal matters.”
Whatever. Taylor’s not going to throw his friend under the bus that easily. He’s been a defender of his shoddy character from day one. Turner’s capability as a coach, however, is something Taylor can’t prop up forever without tangible results to back it up.
Turner is still not good at what he does, and the results this year continue to validate that assessment—which most people subscribed to this offseason anyways.
Bobby Hart remains to be terrible, and it’s not like Turner of all coaches could fix his uninspiring technique. His decision to throw Michael Jordan back out at left guard after he proved he wasn’t ready was as awful as Jordan’s play following the decision. And most of Billy Price’s issues are still plaguing his performance as well.
There’s only so much he can do for Price, Hart and the left tackles he’s working with, but what about Trey Hopkins and Miller? The center and right guard duo have been the unquestionable bright spots along the line, but still can’t seem to communicate with one another in the run game. Second level blocking has been a detriment to the offense all season long, and most of that lies on Hopkins and his guards. Why isn’t their talent being maximized on the field?
Because the only thing Turner has ever proven to maximize is how incompetent of a leader and coach he really is. He’s never managed to make of his units better, he’s rarely been able to elevate anyone’s talent. But he’s always managed to be the center of controversy wherever he goes.
It’s simply poetic that he’s right in the middle of the worst Bengals season in a decade.