CINCINNATI — The Bengals showed patience with Zac Taylor after just six wins in his first two years as their head coach.
Following Saturday’s 26-19 wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Taylor said the opportunity to coach a third season, one that produced an AFC North title and the franchise’s first playoff win in 31 years, likely wouldn’t have happened elsewhere in the NFL.
“Personally, if I coached at any other organization in football, I probably wouldn’t be here right now in the third year,” Taylor said. “That’s the truth.”
Taylor said he gave a game ball to team president Mike Brown, who stuck with Taylor after two seasons filled with losses. The third-year coach said he and the coaching staff owe so much to Brown for the patience he exhibited despite 25 losses in their first two campaigns.
After the Bengals went 4-11-1 in 2020, Brown issued a statement offering a vote of confidence in Taylor and said the franchise was “bullish” on Taylor’s future.
“We are not discouraged, but instead feel motivated and confident that next year will reap the benefits of the work that has been done to date,” Brown said in the January 2021 statement. “We must capitalize on the opportunities in front of us.”
Taylor rewarded that patience by leading the Bengals to their first playoff berth and first AFC North title since 2015, followed by Saturday’s wild-card victory.
Cincinnati’s fortunes were bolstered when the Bengals drafted quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. After the Bengals clinched their playoff berth with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17, Burrow said his pre-draft meeting at the league’s scouting combine solidified his belief in the coach.
“I knew exactly what kind of coach that we had, and I knew exactly where I wanted to be,” Burrow said. “He’s a great offensive mind and a great leader of men. He does a great job, and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
Before he left the interview room after Saturday’s win, Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah made it a point to praise Taylor. Uzomah said the culture that Taylor and the staff have created in Cincinnati played a key role in the turnaround.
Uzomah said it’s up to the players to show why Taylor should win the NFL’s coach of the year award.
“We’ll have to prove it and win a Super Bowl,” Uzomah said.