The Cincinnati Bengals announced the hiring of new head coach Zachary Taylor on Monday with a banner on Twitter reading, “Welcome To The Jungle Zachary Taylor”. Underneath reads, “Head Coach” and “New Dey.”
It’s an interesting description, but somewhat appropriate.
Former coach Marvin Lewis was 60 years old, the ultimate gentleman, always composed and easily a leader of men. After a 16-year run — second only to Bill Belichick in length of tenure — Bengals ownership decided to go with new, young blood and a total revamping of the culture.
It’s sure to be a more modernly savage culture. One where the franchise looks to maintain Lewis’ locker room presence and integrity, but implement a futuristic voice that could possibly get the franchise past the “good” stage.
They also want to do it in a less gentleman-like fashion. Lewis is like the old Don, being replaced by a guy who was no more than a lieutenant, but brings a new style of grit, energy and a more “modern” way of running the family.
Coach is here and ready to work! #NewDEY Watch Head Coach Zac Taylor’s whole Introductory News Conference 🎥: https://t.co/IS4hB9TWJC https://t.co/T5zrmSSw6L
Lewis was a good coach, a consistent personality. He endeared himself to his team and was respected by ownership. He took over a downtrodden franchise in 2003 and built it brick-by-brick, taking the Bengals to the playoffs seven times. With Lewis at the helm,the franchise meant something again, but he had no playoff wins to show for it.
After years of fans and analysts publicly going for his head, the reign of Teflon Marv finally came to an end. Lewis had the double whammy. He was old and he was Black.
Owners aren’t looking for experienced head coaches with proven locker room command and big-game experience anymore. The game is trending towards younger coaches with supposed “genius” potential as offensive play callers like Lewis’ replacement, the 35-year-old Taylor.
Bengals ownership made their intentions clear in Taylor’s introductory press conference on Tuesday.
Head Coach Zac Taylor Introductory News Conference: 2/5 https://t.co/LkoZkSkZZT
The team forgot to also mention that it was following the other new trend, which is to replace the African-American coach with an inexperienced, young, white coach. Five Black NFL coaches were fired this season and only one was replaced by a person of color — Brian Flores in Miami.
The lack of minority offensive coordinators & QB coaches is glaring, and remains a significant obstacle for minorities to get head coaching jobs.” In a league where there are now only four minority head coaches, Brian Flores’ success story matters! https://t.co/flRniRk40C
Hiring Taylor is a shot in the dark, but it’s clearly a copy cat move. Taylor is the second youngest coach in the NFL and has minimal league experience, spending a season as QB coach for the Los Angeles Rams. The Bengals are hoping that he can produce the same magic that Rams’ 33-year-old HC Sean McVay and Jared Goff created this season en route to reaching the Super Bowl.
There’s no guarantee that Taylor will pan out. Even McVay had three seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins before taking over the Rams. However, with Cincinnati’s recent track record of allowing their head coach time to put his stamp on the franchise, Taylor might be able to grow into the job without the pressure of being fired.
Hopefully fans, who became spoiled by Lewis’ stability, relevance and dedication to making the small market Bengals a respectable franchise with a winning tradition, will understand if Taylor isn’t prepared for the magnitude of the moment and multiplicity of tasks he’s undertaking as HC of an NFL squad.
Lewis went 11-5 and made the playoffs in his third season. I guess that will be Taylor’s timeline for playoff success as well.
Taylor will quickly find out that it’s easy to be the next best thing, but lasting 15 years in one place as his predecessor did will prove to be a damn near impossible task in today’s sports climate.