Zac Taylor has won six games in two seasons, one of those with a top-15 (at least, probably top-10) quarterback at the helm.
As former Browns GM Mike Lombardi pointed out, that’s worse than the notorious Dave Shula, who won eight games his first two years.
We all know this, and we hope that Taylor will finally show why he was brought over from the Los Angeles Rams: he’s a bright offensive mind that can help a franchise QB elevate a team into contention.
But Lombardi went a step further, saying:
“And Zac’s not qualified to be head coach of the team. I’m not sure Zac Taylor’s qualified to be the head coach of the University of Cincinnati, let alone the Bengals. All due respect to Zac Taylor, but let’s just call a spade a spade here... He’s demonstrated nothing in terms of managing the team, managing the game. I think that seats hot. I think it’s red, red, red hot.”
Okay, slow down there, Mr. 4-12 as a GM. Sure, it’s been bad the past two years in Cincinnati. But what does it even mean to say someone isn’t qualified to be a head coach? How would one tell with so much roster upheaval, so early into a man’s career?
Perhaps Lombardi means that Taylor didn’t really earn his position. That’s not too unreasonable. He never held a non-interim coordinator position at the professional level. But teams take these kinds of risks all the time, especially as they try to keep up with the trend toward creative and explosive offenses. One could argue that the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury, who had never coached in the NFL in any capacity before he was made head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, was at least as bold.
Furthermore, what does this rhetoric from Lombardi even do? It’s not like Taylor isn’t under the microscope. We’re all watching the games and feeling the hurt of every loss. Whether the critics pile up on him or not, Taylor will feel as much pressure as any coach in the league this year.
In fact, as Sports Illustrated’s James Rapien pointed out, Taylor is exactly where he wants to be. He made it to year three with a bright prospect at quarterback, a bevy of skill players, an upgraded offensive line, and a roster built around the preferences of him and his staff. “Now, he should be able to show off, hey, I am that offensive genius. I am that guy that you hired me to be in 2019,” Rapien said.
Yes, Taylor could be gone at the end of the season (or earlier), but, like Rapien said, all he ever wanted was a shot to prove he is qualified to be the head coach of an NFL team. He has that right now. And not even Mike Lombardi can take that away.