Zac Taylor just took his team to the Super Bowl in his third season, at the age of 38, though they came up just short of winning. He would have been the third-youngest head coach in NFL history had his Cincinnati Bengals won.
He may also have had the record for the worst career win-loss record by a coach in a Super Bowl-winning season, as well, as, though they went 10-7 this year, the Bengals were 6-25-1 in his first two seasons. He has a career 16-32-1 record right now through three seasons.
And now he’s under contract through the 2026 season after the Bengals signed him to a new four-year contract extension yesterday, on the heels of the organization also working out extensions for their offensive and defensive coordinators.
“This isn’t really about me, this is about all of the people in this building who are working towards a really solid future for all of us”, he told reporters yesterday during a press conference following the team’s Super Bowl loss. “And so I’m excited for everybody. I certainly feel like the future is bright. There’s a lot to build on”.
Obviously, the current Bengals team is closer to the 10-7 team of this past season than the 4-11-1 team of 2020, and quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase are the drivers in that seat, though key defensive additions over the past two years can’t be overlooked, either.
The next task at hand is improving the offensive line, in a year in which the Bengals got heavy lifting from players like Quinton Spain and Hakeem Adeniji, with even right tackle Riley Reiff due to be a free agent. Burrow was sacked 70 times combined this year in 21 games, among the highest-ever year-long totals in NFL history.
The second-year quarterback suffered an ankle sprain while taking a hit from pressure during the Super Bowl. Taylor told reporters yesterday that it will take time for him to recover, but that he will not require surgery. Burrow tore his ACL during the 2020 season; he won the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2021.
Cincinnati was in position to draft players like Burrow and Chase in the past two years because of how terrible they’ve been. Burrow was the first-overall pick following a year in which they won just two games. They drafted Chase at five after going 4-11-1 in 2020.
It would be too simplistic to say that this is why the Steelers are falling behind, but obviously, the lower you pick in the draft, the harder it is to get the most talented players. Burrow and Chase are turning a franchise around, or at least playing a huge role in doing so. Who is doing that for Pittsburgh? Najee Harris, I suppose, if they can get him even a mediocre run-blocking offensive line.