The Bengals have had a busy offseason, and as the teams get ready for the preseason, we can pretty much close the book.
With summer practices underway, ESPN’s Mike Sando talked to front office staff and coaches around the NFL to grade each team’s offseason.
No matter what you do, you just can’t please everybody. For all their efforts, the Bengals only got a “C” grade. There are a few things to say about the grading system before we can really dive into the Bengals’ actual grade.
First of all, most teams in the league were either a “C+” or a “C.” Few teams got a lower or a higher grade than that. The Browns only got a “C+,” even though most people will tell you they went from laughing stock to Super Bowl contenders overnight.
That being said, only two teams scored lower than a “C,” being the Jets with a “D” and the Giants with a “D-.” With the circus that is now New York City football, whether it be screwing the pooch with the sixth overall pick or firing the GM at the most inopportune time, these two teams definitely deserve to live in the basement.
Here’s what Sando said about the Bengals:
“The Bengals hired a first-time head coach (Zac Taylor), a first-time offensive coordinator (Brian Callahan) and a first-time defensive coordinator (Lou Anarumo),” he wrote. “Those coaches’ only experience calling plays in the NFL traces to a 12-game stretch for Taylor and Anarumo with the 2015 Dolphins. There will presumably be a learning curve.
That is true, to be sure. Taylor does have a year of play-calling at the college level, but most Cincinnati fans will tell you that it wasn’t promising.
”My biggest question for them as an organization and why they might have considered hiring guys with more experience is just when it comes to identifying talent as a staff,” an exec told Sando. “All these guys have been positional coaches and not even special-teams coaches, who at least have to figure out ways to use or evaluate players.”
Although the anonymous exec told Sando that the Bengals’ staff lacks experience evaluating players, another evaluator thinks that the Bengals have a Rams-like personnel group they can take advantage of.
“You can take their offense and make some comparisons to the Rams,” he said. “[Joe] Mixon is like [Todd] Gurley, Dalton is a little bit like [Jared] Goff, A.J. Green is [Robert] Woods, [John] Ross is [Brandin] Cooks, [Tyler] Boyd is [Cooper] Kupp and Taylor is McVay.”
“They are so conservative there that I think they are trying to just keep the ship running and hope this guy [Taylor] can give them a little something on offense,” an exec said. “A lot is going to depend on what he puts around him, how good his defensive coaches are.”
While Taylor is primarily an X’s and O’s kind of coach, as is most of his staff, that’s probably what the Bengals were looking for. The Bengals have missed that on offense, and saw an opportunity to plug in a bright, young coach. Taylor was respected enough around the league, that he was going to get a shot sooner or later, so the Bengals pounced on the chance to hire him.
Whether or not he can emulate the Rams’ offense remains to be seen. But there are already signs the Bengals made the right move by bringing him in. From the way he talks to the media to the way his players talk about the new clubhouse atmosphere, Taylor is already an upgrade.
While I think that a “C” is a little harsh, I think the Bengals should have gotten an “A” just for firing Marvin Lewis.