Former LSU football quarterback Joe Burrow is both the best and worst thing to happen to Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
The moment the Bengals drafted Burrow — one of the most hyped quarterbacks in recent years — the expectations and timeline for success under Taylor drastically changed.
Taylor, who was hired as the Bengals head coach in 2019 after serving as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach under Sean McVay, is an offensive-minded coach who specializes in quarterbacks.
In other words, the expectation is that Taylor will turn the Bengals into an offensive juggernaut with Burrow at the helm. And the expectation is that it happens fast.
Bengals owner Mike Brown spoke to reporters this week and while he expressed belief in Taylor, he made it clear that the young coach needs to win.
“He’s (Taylor) had a couple years to get his feet on the ground, get established,” said Brown this week (via Paul Dehner Jr). “We’ve got a team that is three-quarters his players, new players that have came since he came. It’s his team now”
Brown expects the Bengals to compete for a Super Bowl in the near future.
But is that realistic?
Cincinnati is in a tough division with three other teams who have a head start on competing for a Super Bowl.
Taylor is in a spot where the expectations don’t exactly meet up with reality.
And those expecations are so high because of the presence of Burrow.
Burrow, however, can only do so much to turn the Bengals into a playoff team. If the offensive line doesn’t protect him, or if the defense fails, that’s on Taylor, not Burrow.
Joe Burrow’s Joe Brady connection could spell trouble for Zac Taylor
If the Bengals don’t improve much on their 4-11-1 record from last year, there’s a strong chance that Taylor will be out the door after the season.
It was only six months ago that Brown had to release a statement expressing faith in Taylor. Usually, when a statement has to be made about backing a coach, it’s not long before a change is made. That’s just how it goes in the NFL.
What makes this situation particularly interesting is that Cincinnati likely already has their next coach circled if Taylor is fired.
Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady interviewed for several head coaching jobs this offseason. He didn’t land any of those jobs, so he’ll be calling plays for the Panthers for a second straight year.
It’s inevitable that Brady will eventually be a head coach — likely in 2022. He has a stellar reputation after the work he did with Burrow at LSU in 2019.
Hiring Brady and reuniting him with Burrow and former LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase seems like a no-brainer for the Bengals. It’s a dream scenario.
Cincinnati doesn’t want to waste the first few years of Burrow’s career. If major progress isn’t made this year, I can definitely see a change being made.
If not for Burrow, perhaps Taylor would get an additional year in Cincinnati if there was only marginal improvement in 2021. But because Burrow’s on the roster, I don’t think Taylor will have that kind of time.