Now that the Super Bowl is over, the Bengals can make their head coaching hire official.
Though it was known for some time, the Cincinnati Bengals officially announced the hiring of new head coach Zac Taylor on Monday, a day following the Los Angeles’ Rams Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Taylor served as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach for the 2018 season and the team’s Super Bowl appearance was the reason for the delayed announcement.
Taylor is the 10th head coach in Bengals history and takes over for Marvin Lewis, who served at the team’s helm from 2003 until the end of the 2018 season. Taylor is a former assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins prior to his time with the Rams; before that, he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Cincinnati and as tight ends coach and graduate assistant at Texas A&M. He is also a former Nebraska quarterback and, in 2006, was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
The Bengals finished 2018 with a 6-10 record and were fourth in the AFC North. Despite Lewis helping shepherd the team to seven playoff appearances, none ended in wins. The hope is that Taylor — the latest Sean McVay-adjacent offensive-minded coaching hire — can bring back both the wins and a chance to contend in the postseason.
Most interesting to watch in the coming months is what Taylor’s hire means for the Bengals’ quarterback position. The team’s director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, said at the Senior Bowl that the Bengals are “very comfortable” with Andy Dalton, who has been the team’s starter since he was drafted in 2011. But Dalton counts $16.2 million against the Bengals’ salary cap this year and releasing him will result in no dead money; if Taylor isn’t thrilled with the prospect of Dalton being his No. 1 quarterback in his rookie coaching year, moving on will not be an issue.
But Taylor is known for his ability to help develop quarterbacks, and though Dalton is an established veteran, there is always room to learn. But whatever the solution, Taylor’s biggest task will be making the Bengals competitive both in their own division and in the NFL as a whole.