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Bengals mailbag: Taylor’s crew, scheduling wins and blossoming a Rosen trade

Are there too many “yes men” on Zac Taylor’s staff? What game(s) are the most important on the Bengals’ 2019 schedule? Could the team try and trade for a quarterback that was a recent high pick?

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As the calendar marches on to NFL free agency and the draft, more and more fans are hardening in their opinions on the state of the Cincinnati Bengals. If you’ve read some of the other mailbag and/or opinion pieces here at Cincy Jungle, you have probably noted some pretty ardent stances by the readers.

One with a large dividing line is that of the amassed coaching staff under new head man, Zac Taylor. Some fans aren’t panicked about the odd interview and hiring processes that have transpired over the past month and a half, while others are concerned about the staff for a variety of reasons.

We received a phone call from a fan on this week’s Orange and Black Insider Bengals podcast, asking about who is comprising Taylor’s staff. The caller wondered if there might be too many “yes men”, or other worrisome traits in the group.

There is some validity to the point, I suppose, as some of these guys are getting their first shots at high-profile gigs. Brian Callahan is in his first stint as an offensive coordinator, while Lou Anarumo is a full-time defensive coordinator for the first time since 1994 and first time ever at the NFL level (was an interim guy for the Dolphins in 2015).

Might some of these guys just not want to rock the boat too much?

Nah—I don’t think that’s the worry here. The inexperience, as a whole, is a bit worrisome, though.

Still, most of these guys have some form of a tie to Taylor. Whether it’s in working directly with him in the past, or by virtue of other ways, the Bengals’ new head coach knows these guys.

It’s why some people are calling for the easing up on Jim Turner. It’s why some argue semantics when you’re talking about which number Anarumo was on Taylor’s coordinator pecking order.

At some point, everyone in Who Dey Nation will need to deal with the fact that these are the guys Taylor wanted, regardless of perceived pecking order, and subsequently hired. If the team becomes successful, does it matter if they agree most of the time with Taylor and don’t really challenge him?

If the offensive line becomes one of the better units in the league, Turner’s past transgressions will be talk of the past. And, if Cincinnati’s defense even becomes mediocre, Anarumo will be looked at as a savior after the Teryl Austin disaster of 2018.

If it doesn’t, then we can go back to the easy narratives. Otherwise, let’s give it a little time to see if some of these guys can finally shed preconceived notions.


For finishing 2018 with just a 6-10 record, the Bengals have a tough road ahead, in terms of the 2019 schedule. Aside from the usual grind that is the AFC North, they face both teams who were in Super Bowl LIII (which includes a trek to London against the Rams), as well as a tough jaunt up to the Pacific Northwest to visit the Seahawks.

Without some major upgrades, this team could very well be looking at another tough season, which would be their fourth in a row.

Of course, the most important games on the schedule are the six inner-divisional contests. Usually, it’s those emotional clashes against the Steelers that pique the most interest and usually end up meaning the most in the course of the season.

However, with Pittsburgh enduring more drama than a daytime soap and questions lingering about the long-term viability of Lamar Jackson as Baltimore’s signal-caller, it leaves an unlikely set of games as two of the most important on the schedule.

The Cleveland Browns have gone from the NFL gutter to darlings in a matter of one calendar year. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down either, as some Cleveland media members peg the team at a 12-4 record in 2019, given the excitement Baker Mayfield showed as a rookie and the team’s adding of Kareem Hunt.

If the Bengals are to be at least competitive in 2019, they’ll need to perform far better than the 1-5 AFC North record they put up last year. And, believe it or not, the Dawgs from the other part of the state are the current favorites to run away with the division.

The game(s) will be particularly important as a gauge to see which direction both Cleveland and Cincinnati are heading. Is Mayfield poised for a fall from grace in year two? Can Andy Dalton thrive in the new Taylor offense with a revamped roster? Or, will a new face be under center at some point in 2019 for the Bengals?

If we are being obvious when going outside of the division, in terms of the most important games on the 2019 schedule for the Bengals, the clash across the pond against Taylor’s former employer also has to be up there.

It’s odd to say because a random game against the NFL West that kickoffs around sun-up on the west coast won’t end up doing much in the way of playoff seeding, but again, we’re talking about barometers. In the case of Taylor’s Bengals against Sean McVay’s Rams, there are a couple of areas to note.

First is in the overall competitiveness of the game. If Cincinnati can keep pace and/or beat last year’s NFC champions, that’s a pretty solid notch in the old belt.

The other, more specific area is to see just how explosive Taylor’s offense is in comparison to the hydra that is the Los Angeles O. We shouldn’t expect the Bengals’ unit and scheme to be a carbon copy, but there should be many similarities and most will want to see Cincinnati’s plethora of skill position talent show itself off as well.

It’s very early and a lot is going to play out over these next two months, but those 2-3 games are particularly striking, in terms of piquing interest and overall importance.


Recently, there have been some rumors about the Arizona Cardinals using the No. 1 overall pick on Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray. As the enigmatic quarterback made his appearance in Indianapolis (which was about as exerting as any other activity he decided to participate in over the weekend), more and more rumors persisted that the Arizona Cardinals are heavily interested in taking Murray No. 1 overall.

The kicker? They took supposed franchise quarterback Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall less than a year ago. This is what can happen when a new coaching regime takes over a particular franchise.

With the Cincinnati Bengals in that same boat of coaching transition and the Andy Dalton dividing line being as emboldened as ever, questions about Taylor potentially swinging a trade for Rosen have surfaced. But with that theory comes major questions.

What would it take to get him? What is proper value? And, most importantly, is he a guy who could propel the Bengals to a championship.

Let’s start in reverse order. Opinions are mixed on Rosen—particularly after a rough rookie season where he threw just 11 touchdowns in 13 starts. However, the consensus opinion is that the Cardinals were a dumpster fire last season (hence their possession of the No. 1 overall pick), causing these struggles.

In college at UCLA, there were many times in which Rosen showed the ability to “make all of the throws”, as they say. However, there were other times in which he almost seemed disinterested and/or trusted his abilities too much. Leadership and “coachability” were other questions that followed Rosen to the next level.

But, with his innate talent, one has to wonder if Rosen would have more success with higher levels of surrounding talent. While the Bengals’ roster needs a replenishment itself, having A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Joe Mixon and others would be a marked improvement from his one year experience in the desert.

It’s unclear what Arizona would ask for Rosen in this scenario. Obviously, they’d like to net as much high-end capital as possible, but they may be behind the eight ball by tipping their hand.

On this week’s OBI episode, co-host John Sheeran entertained the notion that Cincinnati giving up the No. 11 pick they currently hold would be acceptable, albeit the highest, value for the Bengals to cede for Rosen. For those who want to see the team move on from Dalton, it’s a reasonable price; for others, it’s way too high for a Cardinals team apparently set to engage in a fire sale for a young player at a premium position.

Cincy Jungle’s Matt Minich recently corroborated the notion of a first round price when addressing the idea. However, some folks think that Rosen wouldn’t be worth giving up more than a third-round pick as an investment into the future.

Even if Rosen were to be in this year’s draft class instead of the deep 2018 one, it wouldn’t even be a certainty that he’d be the first signal-caller off of the board. That’s saying something for a class that’s widely-viewed as weak.

For instance, I had a conversation with one of my best friends this past weekend, who happens to be an avid Bruins fan. When we discussed Rosen, even he said he wasn’t overly-enchanted with the guy during and after his UCLA tenure for reasons ranging from attitude, to attempting to play the hero and failing too often.

If you’re asking me, a second-round pick and perhaps another conditional late-round selection seems to be more in line with the value I have on Rosen. There could be an involvement of the swapping of picks within a round, as was the case with the Bills for Cordy Glenn last year—there are options to appease both teams. And, though the Bengals shy away from outside free agency, they do engage in the occasional trade—and usually for former high picks (Glenn, Kelly Jennings, Reggie Nelson, Brian Leonard, etc.) .

Finally, in terms of likelihood, I don’t see this trade to the Bengals as very possible. Taylor seems to be committed to Dalton for at least 2019, if we are to take him at his word, and this year just might be more about replenishing the the rest of the roster before re-investing heavily at quarterback.

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