Perhaps it’s unlikely to go any other way given the situation. But young Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow recently offered his young head coach, Zac Taylor, some potentially valuable public support after the third-year head coach’s second season, during which he doubled the team’s win total from two to four.
“Zac’s unbelievable. He’s going to be great for us for a long time,” he recently told Cris Collinsworth on Pro Football Focus’ podcast, transcribed by Pro Football Talk. “Me and him have a special relationship and there was chemistry from the very first meeting that we had at the combine. So this is a dream for me, to be quarterback of the Bengals. I mean, it’s crazy. [I’m] from Ohio. It’s a lot of fun. We have great players, great coaches. And I think the future is bright.”
Taylor was named the Cincinnati Bengals’ head coach in 2019. He succeeded Marvin Lewis, who had been the team’s head coach from 2003 through the 2018 season. Taylor was previously most notably the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach under Sean McVay, who has seemingly lost some of his wunderkind aura over the past two years.
Beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M in 2008, Taylor was exclusively a position coach until just 2015, serving one year as offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. He spent two years with the Rams, the first as assistant wide receivers coach, before the Bengals hired him.
During his first season in 2019, Cincinnati finished 2-14 on the season. That tied for their worst record in franchise history with the 2002 season, a season bad enough to prompt the firing of Dick LeBeau. LeBeau returned to the Steelers thereafter as defensive coordinator and helped them win two titles.
It was bad enough to land them the first overall draft pick as well. They used it to draft Burrow, the unanimous top prospect in last year’s draft, after posting one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history during LSU’s 2019 undefeated championship run.
During his rookie season a year ago under Taylor, Burrow completed 264 of 404 passes for 2,688 yards with 13 touchdowns to five interceptions. He was on a clear upward trajectory before suffering a torn ACL, among other collateral damage, early in the second half of the Bengals’ 10th game of the year.
While the Bengals don’t win much, Taylor is also fortunate that owner Mike Brown is also not one with a quick trigger. They are not an organization that hastily makes changes when they don’t immediately see the desired results. He should at least get a couple years with Burrow before he really needs to worry about his job, I suspect. And it helps a lot if Burrow actually likes him.