Needless to say, the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t picture an 0-3 start to the Zac Taylor era. Unfortunately, that’s where the team currently sits, with all three losses bringing differing levels of frustration and, believe it or not, optimism.
Taylor is getting into sketchy territory with this team in what could become a winless month of September. The good vibes from the offseason and player speak talking about their belief in the new coach might be wearing off as the losses pile up.
After the Bengals’ most recent loss to the Bills in last-second fashion, Taylor addressed his team in the locker room with a high level of passion.
Zac Taylor screaming in locker room “we haven’t gotten ONE break all year. Gave ourselves a chance to win. It’s coming, I promise you”— Gary Miller (@Local12Gary) September 22, 2019
Zac Taylor on his message to his team in fiery postgame speech:— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) September 22, 2019
"The message was the wolves are coming. They're going to tear us apart. That's what they're going to try to do. And this group is too strong to allow that to happen. #Bengals
Obviously, Taylor is partially pointing to the questionable officiating on Sunday afternoon at New Era Field. Cincinnati was robbed of a kickoff return touchdown by Darius Phillips because of an iffy holding call on Auden Tate, while also seeing what seemed like a recovered fumble by Nick Vigil eventually get ruled in favor of Buffalo.
The new coach is also referencing the chatter his players will undoubtedly be hearing this week as they risk starting the season 0-4. It’s a wise ploy for a young, inexperienced coach to keep his players believing in the direction he’s leading them.
Taylor is also correct in his assessment that the Bengals have had chances to win games thus far. They’re five collective points away from being 2-1, as the games against the Seahawks and Bills could have easily been victories.
However, there is an innate contradiction here as well. Coaching gaffes in the form of twice having 12 men on the field this Sunday, as well as a poor challenge from Taylor and his staff were noted. Other mental lapses and infrequent effort levels (tackling, anyone?) by players can also be pointed to when discussing this topic.
Regardless, this is a team that is attempting to find itself and is “learning how to win”, as the old adage goes. The optimist may look at these losses and say that these are necessary lessons for everyone in that locker room to build long-term success. After all, the Bengals now have seven one-possession losses in their 12 total defeats dating back to last season.
The Bengals have a huge test next Monday night in their first divisional game on the road against the Steelers. We’ll see if Taylor’s message resonated with the players very soon.