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Zac Taylor is poised to bring a “New Dey” to Cincinnati

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The Bengals have a new young offensive-minded coach. What can we expect from him in 2019?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

When looking for a new head coach, the Bengals went to the newest and most en vogue coaching tree. Zac Taylor spent only a short time with Sean McVay and the Rams, but it was enough to make him one of the hottest coaching candidates this offseason. After meeting with Taylor, the Bengals knew they had their guy.

Now, Taylor will have to prove that he is the man for the job.

Experience

  • 2008-2011: Texas A&M (graduate assistant)
  • 2012: Miami Dolphins (assistant quarterbacks coach)
  • 2013-2015: Miami Dolphins (quarterbacks coach/interim offensive coordinator in 2015)
  • 2016: University of Cincinnati (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach)
  • 2017: Los Angeles Rams (assistant wide receivers coach)
  • 2018: Los Angeles Rams (quarterbacks coach)

Background

Taylor played quarterback for Brian Callahan’s father Bill at the University of Nebraska. After college, he spent 1 training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1 season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before starting his coaching career.

He was a graduate assistant at Texas A&M under Mike Sherman and followed Sherman to the Miami Dolphins. He quickly became the quarterbacks coach and retained that role when Sherman headed to Nauset High School on Cape Cod (Go Warriors!). Taylor was briefly interim offensive coordinator, but did nothing to stand out during this time.

He then became quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati, but he only held the position for one season and the Bearcats did nothing extraordinary.

The following season is when he got hooked up with McVay. He served as assistant wide receiver’s coach with the Rams for one season before being named quarterbacks coach. Taylor played a key part in the team’s offense helping them game plan for 3rd downs on the way to their Super Bowl appearance.

Despite not being principle play caller for the Rams offense, Taylor was a hot coaching candidate in an NFL that is thirsty for young offensive minds. The Bengals had to wait until after the Super Bowl to hire Taylor, but they were happy to wait to get the new voice their franchise needed.

2019 Outlook

Regardless of how good of an offensive, defensive, or even special teams coach he is a rookie head coach needs to prove that he understands game management and complimentary football.

Appointing offensive assistant Dan Pitcher as head of game management showed that Taylor understands the importance of this aspect of the game, but understanding and execution are two separate things. Unfortunately, the NFL doesn’t have a great way of determining what coaches will be successful in these areas, which is in part why many excellent coordinators flop as head coaches.

It may be a complete mystery how Taylor will manage the team as a whole, but the expectation is that the Bengals' offense will resemble that of the Rams with Joe Mixon cast in the role of Todd Gurley, A.J. Green as Robert Woods, Tyler Boyd as Cooper Kupp, and John Ross playing the part of Brandin Cooks. Of course, it won’t be that simple, especially with Green out for the first part of the regular season, but it is a good place to start.

One big question is what will Taylor’s relationship with Andy Dalton be? The team has a quarterbacks coach in Alex Van Pelt, but Taylor also coached quarterbacks. So did offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

Sean McVay, of course, works closely with Rams quarterback Jared Goff. He even talks to him pre-snap until the headset cuts out with 15 seconds on the play clock. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals offense functions in this way, or if Taylor puts more on the veteran quarterback.

The Bengals have an impressive group of offensive skill players for Taylor to tinker with. Running back Joe Mixon is coming off a year in which he led the AFC in rushing while Giovani Bernard is an excellent 3rd-down back.

Taylor’s challenge will be figuring out how to use his star player, Mixon, to his fullest, while not wearing him out over the course of the season. This means using the team’s depth effectively.

Wide receiver is clearly a strength at the top. They of course have Green, whose season ended early with a toe injury last year, but is among the best in the league. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until late September/early October to see Green back on he field.

They also have Boyd, who has established himself as one of the league’s best big slots. The big challenge for Taylor will be getting Ross into that third slot. Ross has the ability to change the offense, but was not properly nurtured early in his career. Taylor needs to figure out A) how to get him ready and 2) how to get him the ball as much as possible. They didn’t get to do that in the preseason while Ross was out with a hamstring injury, but he’s now healthy and will play in Week 1.

The Bengals showed an emphasis on blocking at the tight end position by drafting Drew Sample, but the Bengals have some talented pass catchers at the position in Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah. The trick for Taylor will be using Eifert wisely and keeping him healthy.

The model for this comes from New England. Prior to joining the Patriots, Danny Amendola struggled to stay healthy. When he got to New England, he was used sparingly early in the year. This kept him healthy and fresh for key games at the end of the season and in the playoffs.

Whatever they do offensively, Taylor is going to have to account for the limitations of this offensive line. With Clint Boling‘s retirement and Jonah Williams‘ injury the team lost what could have been a strong left side of the line. The Rams have been strong on the offensive line since McVay’s arrival and invested in the position. Taylor will not have the same advantage in Cincinnati.