Is there an argument for Zac Taylor to return for a third season with the Cincinnati Bengals?
Can his entire staff also be brought back? Certainly not. And based on Bengals insider Elise Jesse’s latest report, changes are indeed inevitable.
According to Jesse, “the team will move on from multiple assistants at the end of the season.”
“League sources tell AllBengals that the Bengals’ front office has been blunt and forthcoming in their conversations with Taylor as they evaluate the direction of the franchise,” Jesse wrote. “The second-year head coach is going to return for a third season, but there will be plenty of new faces on his staff.”
No matter how you feel about Taylor or how the front office feels about him, some accountability has to be applied for a season that once again ended with double-digit losses.
Which assistants are the least likely to stay? Probably the most important ones.
Lou Anarumo, defensive coordinator
Sam Hubbard might’ve actually saved Anarumo’s job last Sunday. If the third-year edge rusher doesn’t strip-sack Watson with ample time left on the clock for the Texans to win the game on the final drive, it would’ve been yet another blown lead by Anarumo’s defense.
The apparent progress Anarumo’s defense made in the last few weeks looks a lot more questionable after Deshaun Watson and David Johnson carved it up like cake. The second-year defensive coordinator doesn’t have very much of his unit available to him, but an upgrade can definitely be had if they chose to look for one. The rumors of his authoritarian nature and handling of the Carlos Dunlap situation doesn’t make his case any better.
Jim Turner, offensive line coach
There are less excuses for the Bengals’ infamous offensive line coach. The Bengals could’ve invested in the offensive line last offseason, but they chose to trust Turner’s ability to develop what they had. As Bengals legend Willie Anderson says, OL coaches don’t have much time to develop players because they’re too busy implementing scheme. That’s why Turner’s lack of evaluation skills cost the Bengals more than his inability to coach.
The result was one of the league’s worst pass-blocking offensive lines that ended up getting its star quarterback carted off of the field before December. That’s what makes this an institutional failure, but of course the front office won’t have to face any accountability when they can just pin all of it on the coach that wanted his guys out there.
Many changes are coming to the offensive line this offseason to rectify their negligence, and Turner doesn’t need to be around to see those changes.
Ben Martin, assistant offensive line coach
We don’t really talk about Turner’s assistant. Our own Matt Minich got the chance to interview Martin back in July, but his NFL exposure has been limited. We also don’t quite know how much responsibility he has in general. It’s just difficult to see the team retaining Martin if Turner is indeed canned. A fresh start at both positions seems right.
Nick Eason, defensive line coach
Eason would qualified as a surprise fire, but it’s possible if several assistants will be receiving pink slips. The defensive line dealt with so much adversity this season with injuries and mismanaging Dunlap’s final weeks in Cincinnati. Eason and the staff did its best to make it work, but very few teams were worse than the Bengals in getting after the passer. Will that lead to Eason’s dismissal?
Al Golden, linebackers coach/third down play-caller
Speaking of pass-rushing incompetence, Golden was given the reigns on third down and they ended up as a below-average unit on the money down. Golden is an experienced coach and he deserves credit for how the linebackers have played and developed this season. If Anarumo goes, Golden can either be retained for his experience and have his third-down responsibilities revoked, or he may just be replaced altogether.