One of the most prominent trends within the NFL in recent years has been teams seeking younger offensive minds, typically playcallers, as their new head coaches, believing that this is the best way to rebuild a team, maximizing the ability to score points.
As with every other approach teams have taken in looking for their next hire, the results have been hit or miss, and the Cincinnati Bengals’ decision to hire former Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor as their head coach in 2019 has, so far, yielded plenty of misses. They are 7-26-1 since he took over.
The most recent loss came on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, and according to ESPN’s Bengals staff writer Ben Baby, comments made by some of the key players on Cincinnati’s offense could point to Taylor as one of the chief problems—in his role as playcaller.
The story goes that the Bengals knew well that the scouting report indicated that Bears’ defense could be attacked downfield, as they were in Week 1. Yet Taylor did not have quarterback Joe Burrow attempt a single pass even 10 yards down the field throughout the entire first half of the game, which he certainly seemed to question in his post-game comments.
“You got to throw the ball over their head”, Baby quotes the second-year quarterback as saying when he spoke to reporters after the game. “At least make them feel like you are going to be able to do that and call some plays that go over their head”.
They would eventually start pushing the ball down the field, and Burrow connected with first-round rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase on a 42-yard bomb with under five minutes to play to make it a two-possession game at 20-10.
“We waited to the last minute to take shots”, Chase said. According to Pro Football Focus, Burrow would ultimately attempt three deep passes, connecting on the one to Chase for the score. He also connected on four of five pass attempts between 10-19 yards through the air for 55 yards.
Baby writes that Burrow also said after the game that the Bears knew that the Bengals would try to use a short, quick-release passing game against them, in the hopes of slowing down the pass rush of a front seven that was still potent even absent Eddie Goldman.
When you do exactly what a defense expects you to do, generally, you’re not going to have the best results. The Bengals have not had good results for years now. The reality is that Taylor didn’t even have a lot of experience calling plays before getting the job, unlike other recent head coaching hires like Kevin Stefanski.
Why are so many of them unwilling to relinquish the play-calling responsibilities, even when they have an offensive coordinator? Is it an ego-driven concern? Do they fear surrendering the quality that got them the job in the first place?