Zac Taylor: Five Burning Questions

The Cincinnati Bengals made it official and signed Zac Taylor to be the 10th coach in franchise history. Right out of the gate he has a myriad of questions to answer. Most of them cannot be answered for another 10 months. Some of them can be answered this week. All of them need to be answered, at some point. Here are the big ones.

1.      Who will be his defensive coordinator?

This one is the most obvious question because it’s been a most obvious weakness, the past few years. It also has some mustard to it, because the next D-coordinator needs to be a little experienced. Think Wade Phillips with Sean McVay-type pairing. The experienced candidate would be a wise, Obi-Wan-type guy who Taylor can lean on, and who can reign in Vontaze Burfict.

It also needs to be a guy with some new ideas. Now this is my personal thought, but Dom Capers has been rumored, and some have recoiled from that, sighting his 3-4 scheme. The Bengals have run a 4-3 scheme since before Marvin Lewis came to town. Now might be a good time to try something new, though. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t completely prepared for it. Their linebackers need overhauling for this idea to work. But that can happen. They already have two guys who could make the change work, in-house, in Malik Jefferson and Carl Lawson. What they don’t have are middle linebackers. They could address that in the draft, but that’s a thought for another blog post. Suffice it to say, they shouldn’t rule out Capers simply because his scheme is a bit different from what they’re used to.

2.      Who is his quarterback, beyond 2019?

This upcoming season is crucial, not only for the Bengals coach, but also for the Bengals QB. Andy Dalton is getting a little older and, by most accounts, has plateaued in his professional development. Can Taylor and his new offensive staff inject some sort of new life into Dalton’s Bengals career, or are his stripes so worn from the last years of Marvin Lewis that a new guy is needed, altogether? Some, myself included, believe that Andy is right there in the middle of the pack, as far as NFL QB rankings go. Not bad, but not great. Maybe Taylor is just what the doctor ordered for him to find that next gear. Or maybe the Bengals meet their franchise QB on April 25? Time will tell.

3.      Does he like Skyline, or Gold Star?

One makes okay chili and is the sponsor of the Bengals and the other is awesome and is named Skyline. Will he be a pawn of corporate contractual obligation, or will he be the free-thinker with a wise pallet that we all think he can be?

4.       Will he quietly do a better job?

We’ve been hearing how important it is to do a better job for 16 years now. Will Taylor have the wherewithal to complete the task without reminding us of the objective each week?

5.      Will he be able to improve Tanya O’Rourke’s golf game?

Quite possibly the most important accomplishment of any NFL head coach is how he imparts his knowledge of the links onto the local news anchor. This is what will earn him his contract extensions for years to come.

The first year of Taylor’s tenure is fraught with excitement and peril. I’ll be all over each development as we look forward to a new era in Bengals football.

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The Patriots Deserve Respect

There aren’t many people who will agree with me, but I am not bored with the Patriots appearing in yet another Super Bowl. If they win or lose, I will enjoy the game and I will enjoy watching one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports.

Many people include them in their most hated teams. I’ve heard more than a few people (obviously around Cincinnati) tell me “My favorite teams are the Bengals, and whoever is playing the Steelers and Patriots.” I understand the Steelers, and I agree, but I do not agree with the Patriots take. Hear me out.

Do you like good football? Do you enjoy good play calling, hardworking players, and talented players? Did you watch the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls and root for the other guys? Few did. The feeling of aversion to success is something that needs to die, in America. We think because someone wins a lot that there is something wrong with that person.

What is wrong with Julian Edelman? Dude was a QB in college, picked in the 7th round, asked to change to a receiver, and now has the second-most receptions in postseason history (Jerry Rice, who will never be beaten, has the most.) What is wrong with Rex Burkhead? He was the number three back in Cincinnati, asked to step up due to injury, he does, and the Bengals let him walk in free agency for his efforts. Sexy Rexy then becomes a Patriot and scores two TDs in the AFC Championship win over the Chiefs. What is wrong with Rob Gronkowski? Ok, so you don’t like to party, sure, but dude is the obvious number one target of Tom Brady, and still, no one consistently stops him while he consistently gets his. Also, he’s a cool dude I’d love to meet some day.

So you say the Patriots cheat. They tape practices or they deflate footballs. Let me ask you something about that, can you prove it? Or better yet, can you disprove that? No. You will never come up with enough evidence, one way or another, to definitively answer that. So is that a logical reason to dislike a team, no! You call on this idea as a reason you hate the Patriots because you already hated the Patriots. They win, your team didn’t, so you don’t much like them. Some hack reporter found some sort of circumstantial story that you now take and run with as a reason to dislike them. You hated them in the beginning, so you had no reason to question the validity of the off-hand claim.

They just play good football. Brady is the best quarterback who ever played. He’s won more, regardless of Sunday’s outcome, and he’s done it with less. Outside of Randy Moss, which receiver has he thrown to who is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame? Yet he still shreds opposing defenses when he needs to the most, the playoffs.

No one will ever replicate what Bill Belichick and Brady are doing, right now.

The AFC East is the AFC Least, you say. So how do they constantly outplay and outcoach tougher competition, year-in and year-out? They aren’t ready for tougher teams because they play in a weak division, right? So how does that work?

Football is good. Good football is awesome. The Patriots play good football. The Patriots are awesome. Promise you, I am not a Patriots fan, I am a Patriots respecter. There’s a difference and you don’t have to be a fan to respect good football.