The Cincinnati Bengals are the cheese standing alone right now, the lone organization remaining with a head coaching vacancy. We can safely deduce at this point that the reason for this is because their intended target, Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach and Guy-Who-Has-Met-Sean–McVay Zac Taylor, is unable to take the job yet until his team’s season is completed.
The most obvious sign of this being the organization’s intention is the fact that they have almost entirely gutted their coaching staff, similar to how the Cleveland Browns took the same approach this offseason, despite the fact that they ultimately promoted from within at the head coaching position.
Among the many coaching positions that are currently vacant are offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. The Pittsburgh Steelers, of course, recently employed Teryl Austin, their defensive coordinator who was fired midseason, as a defensive assistant for the secondary.
Arguably the most significant departure in terms of indicating the intention of hiring Taylor and allowing him to build his own staff was the decision to part ways with Frank Pollack, who recently had a great deal of success working with the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line.
Pollack was hired last season and helped to turn the Bengals’ offensive line into something relatively presentable, in spite of the fact that they had backup-level starters at right guard and right tackle, plus a rookie center who missed much of the season due to injury. Cincinnati averaged over 4.5 yards per carry on the year and they surrendered fewer sacks than was projected.
A great deal of that was Pollack’s doing. It shouldn’t take long for him to find another job with another organization, as he figures to be the most respected offensive line coach that is available. But the Bengals have not made a change at head coach in well over a decade.
This is the most significant turnover for the organization in a long time, and they are embracing that by pretty much hitting the reset button. Marvin Lewis had a great deal of control over things, and now they are looking to afford Taylor the same luxury—while avoiding some of the mistakes that they made with Lewis.
Outside of Cleveland, there hasn’t been a lot of change in the AFC North in recent years, but that’s coming now. The Bengals have a new head coach, the Baltimore Ravens have a new quarterback. How much longer might it be before the Steelers have to look for a new man to head either of those roles? Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger have been together for a dozen years and counting.