When Geno Atkins...Geno Atkins, joins in the frustration, that’s all you need to know.
Just think about it. This means he would have had to exert the effort to open his mouth, push air all the way from his lungs up to his vocal cords, and curl his lips and tongue in the appropriate fashion to produce sounds recognizable to English speakers. That’s a lot for him. Especially when the topic was something that probably made him very uncomfortable.
This is very different from the other vets airing out grievances.
Carlos Dunlap? Sure. He’s the most outspoken member of the Marvin Lewis era and was coming off a great season only to be turned into a specialist this year.
A.J. Green? Yeah, okay. He’s still looking for a new deal and knows Mike Brown’s wallet is about as tight as his pants are following a (thrifty) Thanksgiving meal.
Shawn Williams? That makes sense. We knew before the year that he’d be the odd man out with Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell getting the majority of the snaps at safety.
But Geno?! Sorry, Zac Taylor, but that’s it. That’s the indication that you’re losing the locker room.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for benching guys—no matter their track record—when it’s clear they can’t produce anymore. But Geno has only played two games! Give the guy the snaps he needs to get back into a rhythm.
Honestly, though, maybe it’s not even about playing time. Maybe Geno just doesn’t like the direction of the defense, as Tyler Dragon of Cincinnati.com reported. Maybe he doesn’t want to be coached by a staff that has the linebacker coach calling third down and rush packages? Maybe he just wants to finish his career out on a franchise that operates in a professional manner?
Taylor has tried hard to sweep every bit of controversy under the rug. It simply isn’t working anymore. If the team were winning, sure, it’d be easier to buy into whatever in the world he thinks he’s doing with his lineups. But he’s now 3-18-1 and still winless on the road after a year and a half.
His latest loss may have been his ugliest, as the Bengals looked helpless against a mediocre Indianapolis Colts team that mounted a 21-0 comeback led by a 38-year-old Philip Rivers who looks like he has maybe five or six kids left in him max.
We talked—at length—about what exactly went wrong in that debacle, and a big part of it was coaching.
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Yes, it’s true, Taylor has been given a very long leash and is more of a project Brown and Katie and Troy Blackburn looked to invest in long-term. But you simply can’t put the product on the field he has, have terrible team chemistry, and show you and your staff’s struggles by employing unconventional play-calling duties and expect to maintain the respect of players - even those getting playing time - for very long.
If Taylor doesn’t wake up and look at that ocean of dirt bubbling under the metaphorical rug, he may soon find himself drowning in it.