The Cincinnati Bengals finished with two wins, the fewest in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns finished with six wins. One of those teams has already fired their rookie head coach, and it isn’t the Bengals.
While it may come as a shocker to some, the expectations for Cincinnati weren’t there like they were for Cleveland. Secondly, Zac Taylor, in his first year as a head coach, has gained the respect and admiration of his veterans, unlike Cleveland’s Freddie Kitchens.
It was a trying season for Cincinnati, succumbing to their fourth straight losing season. While their playoff aspirations died a while ago, Taylor’s spirit and his dedication didn’t.
An appropriate move for management may have been to cut ties and fire the rookie head coach, starting from square one. Yet, for now, that seems highly unlikely given the high praise heaped on him by multiple veterans.
Bengals’ senior writer Geoff Hobson caught up with a few of the longer-tenured players to ask their view on Taylor.
Here’s what the seven-time Pro Bowler, A.J. Green had to say on Taylor.
- “Zac is a great coach. I think he’s going to get this rolling as soon as we get everything going. We had a lot injuries. We had to rotate offensive linemen, a lot of stuff like that. It’s kind of tough when you’ve got a coach getting the feel, but I think Zac is a guy that is really going to change us because he’s an unbelievable coach. A player’s coach. He takes care of his guys,” Green said via Bengals.com.
Green wasn’t the only one that got to chip in on the Taylor praise. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick also casted his vote in favor of the first-year head coach.
“What are you doing if you get rid of him after one year? You have to give him an opportunity. You’ve seen we can be good. I believe in Coach He’s going to get this thing turned around. How he handed the losses. How he kept everyone motivated. Our record doesn’t show how guys feel. We still felt like a good team. Nobody got in the tank. Everyone was still showing up ready to work. I feel like he did a great job getting guys motivated.”
Lastly, Giovani Bernard got his two cents in on the mindset of players in the locker room.
“Players don’t want him going anywhere. We have a lot of trust in him,” Bernard noted.
With that type of praise, expect Taylor to stay around at least for a few more seasons. However, as expectations grow higher, there will start to be standards to meet so Taylor must begin to find more sustained success this coming season.