We long for winning coaches and managers in this town...
Some want statues built for them.
We want Sparky Anderson filling out the lineup card and making the call to the bullpen. We want Bob Huggins stalking the sidelines with that scowl on his face. We want the wackiness of Sam Wyche and the methodical success built by Luke Fickell.
Say it with me. I, you and we looooooooooooooove winning.
But here's a question: Where's the love for Zac Taylor?
If I had a dollar for every call, email, tweet and social media post that insists the Bengals are winning in spite of Taylor, or that downplay his role in winning, I'd have a tall stack of dollar bills.
Why are some so hesitant, even resistant to offering Taylor even a modicum of credit?
In his fourth season, he's elevated this organization to the upper echelon of NFL teams. Go ahead, read that again. Bengals. Upper. Echelon. NFL.
The Bengals have been around since 1968. He's coached them to their first ever back-to-back division titles. He's coached them to a franchise tying 12 wins, including a franchise tying eight straight. Oh yea, he's coached them to a Super Bowl and has them primed for another run for the Lombardi trophy.
I know. He's got Joe Burrow...and Ja'Marr Chase.....DJ Reader and Trey Hendrickson. And? Don't all contenders have stud players?
Consider what Taylor has done to get to this point:
He overhauled the roster, stripping it down to the foundation and starting over. He's built a roster of versatile, dependable, football players. A roster woven by the thread of high football IQ. Quality human beings with no hint of the 'jerk factor.' As I recalled Monday night's anniversary of the playoff debacle vs the Steelers I thought to myself, I'm sure glad the nonsense is long gone.
Taylor certainly hasn't done it himself. A lot of people have been in on the heavy lifting up of this franchise. From Duke Tobin, to scouts, to coaches, and others up and down the organizational flow chart. Yes, landing the No. 1 pick on 2020 and No. 5 pick in 2021 were clearly a boon to Taylor's master plan.
But here's a not-so crazy ask: Can Taylor get some credit? Strike that, a lot of credit.
The 39-year old is far from perfect, and no doubt still learning and growing in this role. Hey, I've seen enough 4th and 1 jet sweeps and shovel passes to last a lifetime. I've been frustrated with Taylor on multiple occasions. But too many fans tend to get caught up in the minutia of one play, one moment and wanting to make it a referendum on Taylor. Geez, some still point to his play calling for a subpar UC team under that goof, Tommy Tuberville, six years after the fact!
I find it fascinating how Taylor gets blame for the bad plays and I hear silence for the good plays. Nevermind the fact his Bengals play calling has produced the 7th most points in the NFL in back-to-back seasons.
What about his eye for coaching talent and the hiring of NFL head coaching candidates Lou Anarumo and Brian Callahan? Right now, his critics are shouting, 'Lou wasn't even his first choice!" Sigh.
What about smaller tweaks like changing philosophies to take the ball and go on offense first in games?
What about his leadership in guiding this team through adversity this season? Clearing the hurdles of the killer' back half of the schedule by going 8-0?
Uh, what about the fact his players clearly love him, respect him and want to play for him?
There is a genuine nature, a realiness, and a human side that Taylor's not afraid to show. It shined in his handling of the MNF situation and his follow-up news conferences. Surely you've noticed the national praise Taylor received?
Taylor has created a culture, a way, a winning way, and it's steel strong. And what about how he's trending? After starting his coaching career 6-25-1, he's guided the Bengals to a 22-11 record. To think an emailer pointed out this week that 'well, he still has a losing record as an NFL coach.'
I'm not asking for a Taylor statue. I'm not asking that all the credit be handed over to him. But I certainly think he's owed more than none, some or a little.
Can we settle at a lot of credit?
Kind of weird I even have to ask.