The Cincinnati Bengals have won a total of six (and a half) games so far during the two-year tenure of Zac Taylor as head coach, who was hired to replace Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons in that post. Before things fell apart in his final three seasons, Lewis had only had three seasons of sub-.500 play, which is notable, given that they had a sub-.500 record in 11 of the previous 12 years before he took over.
Given the overall context, what Lewis was able to do in Cincinnati, under the constraints of ownership, and with fiscal and other resource limitations, certainly starts to look a lot better. The reality is that coaches in Taylor’s position have been fired at this point already for less.
But the ownership, so far, remains committed to Taylor and his vision. That even comes from Carlos Dunlap, one of the longest-tenured members of the team who was traded mid-season in 2020—in no small part after he became disgruntled with his role.
“I just know they’re committed to whatever their vision is”, he said in a recent radio interview, according to ESPN. “It’s clear that I was not one of those pieces. It seems like A.J. and Geno’s time is coming, too. I guess it’s a changing of the guard”.
A.J., of course, refers to wide receiver A.J. Green, and Geno would be Geno Atkins, the defensive tackle. Both of them are quite decorated with Pro Bowl accolades over the course of their long careers. But are either of them in the cards for the Bengals in 2021?
Green just played out a season under the franchise tag, and certainly didn’t put up franchise numbers. It’s clear that Tyler Boyd and second-year Tee Higgins are their top wide receivers, and they will likely address the position early in the draft.
Atkins barely played 100 snaps last season in eight games, despite having been a Pro Bowler in almost every year of his career prior to that, including as recently as the 2019 season. Cincinnati signed D.J. Reader in free agency, though he missed most of the year due to injury.
There always comes the time when people have to move on, of course. As they say, Father Time is undefeated. Atkins will be 33 soon. Green will also be turning 33 before the start of the 2021 season, after barely putting up 500 yards with two touchdowns.