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Bengals were reportedly close to hiring Eric Bieniemy in 2019

The Bengals are probably feeling better about Zac Taylor in 2021, but how different could history have been if it was Eric Bieniemy?

Kansas City Chiefs Practice Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals hooked their horse to the Zac Taylor wagon prior to the 2019 season. It was a pretty drawn out process due to him being on the Los Angeles Rams team that went to the Super Bowl.

It appears that there seemed like a good chance that job could have gone to Chiefs offensive coordinator and former-Bengal running back Eric Bieniemy, according to NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew.

“I think he wants the opportunity anywhere. I know he wants to be in the NFL,” Jones-Drew told the Pat McAfee Show. “He was going to take the Cincinnati job. He thought he had it when Zac Taylor got it. Obviously the way that panned out, it seems like Zac Taylor’s doing a better job than what he did the first couple years.”

The initial national reaction was not great when Taylor took the Bengals job. Many attributed his credentials to being nothing more than knowing Rams’ head coach Sean McVay. His first two seasons did little to turn that perception around. His first two seasons were a combined 6-25-1 as head coach with the common theme of constantly losing close games.

During those two seasons, Bieniemy helped lead the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes to a Super Bowl win and appearance.

Why Bieniemy has not managed to get a head-coaching job over his great run as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator under Andy Reid is really anyone’s guess. We can all speculate, but no one outside those interviews could give you a solid reason as to why. All we know is that we have seen less-qualified coaches land these head coaching jobs. Although, this season probably won’t help his cause.

Either way, the “what if” here has to be whether Bieniemy could have possibly brought this team along quicker than Taylor did. It seemed like regardless of the coach, the plan for the 2019 season was to see if there was any salvaging what remained of the Andy Dalton era roster. This was a task the Taylor clearly was not capable of doing. Bieniemy may have been able to bring in more of an offensive explosion quicker.

The problem with the Bengals having any sort of initial success in 2019 means we would’ve been watching a bad roster try and scrap for even a glimmer of a hope for a playoff spot. It also would’ve meant we wouldn’t see Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. Who knows, maybe Dalton would still be around with a mid-round quarterback developing under him.

The thing to sometimes remember when you go back to try and change something up in NFL history is to think about how quickly that could change the current makeup of the team. One that looks like it could be headed in the right direction after a bye week.