Zac Taylor understands this offseason is important, knows Bengals have to win games to ‘get people to shut up’


The Cincinnati Bengals are now on the clock — which is both a good thing and bad thing. It’s great that they have a chance to draft a potentially generational player like former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, but it’s also a negative because they are clearly the worst team in the NFL, and don’t have much going for them in 2020 to change the narrative.

Ask any analyst and they will tell you that the Bengals should draft Burrow. Last season, he completed 76.3 percent of his passes for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He won the Heisman Trophy, and also got former passing game coordinator Joe Brady a job in the NFL, making him the youngest coordinator in professional football. With an aging Andy Dalton, who was benched last season and Ryan Finley, who didn’t impress with his limited reps, Burrow to the Bengals seems like the perfect marriage. But what if the former declines to say “I do?”

When asked about heading to Cincinnati, Burrow has tried to remain politically correct with his answers. He hasn’t bashed the Bengals, yet he doesn’t seem too thrilled about the idea. 

“[The Bengals] have their process and I have my process,” Burrow said, via Fort-Worth Star Telegram. “We haven’t even gotten to the combine yet. There’s a lot of things that happen leading up to the draft and a lot of information gathered. Right now, I’m focused on being the best football player I can be.” 

“I’m in this unique spot. You can go watch my film. I don’t have to prove myself at pro day and at the combine, so I’m in a unique spot where I can focus on getting ready for the year.”

What if Burrow did pull an Eli Manning? What if he refused to take a single snap for the Bengals and forced them to trade him away on draft night? It’s something that could end up happening, and a tactic former No. 1 overall pick Steve Bartkowski says he would employ.

There isn’t much reason to believe the Bengals are just a couple of pieces from getting back to the postseason. They finished with a league-worst 2-14 record and first-year head coach Zac Taylor did nothing to prove that he’s the right guy to lead this franchise into the future. Taylor understands that they are considered the NFL’s punching bag right now, and that they are going to have to win some games or spend money this offseason to flip the script. 

“It’s become such a big deal the last few weeks you can’t avoid it,” Taylor said, via Paul Dehner of The Athletic. “You got to win more football games to get people to shut up. Or whatever it is, have a higher respect, whatever you want to call it.”

“It’s up to us to win more games and follow our plan, do it the right way, execute it. Build the team the right way, do it through free agency and the draft and keep building the culture we built upon and we will be in really good shape.”

The Bengals have close to $45 million in cap space this offseason, which ranks No. 18 in the NFL according to overthecap.com. It’s not the most ideal financial situation, but Taylor knows that once free agents meet his staff and players, they will understand that Cincinnati is not the dumpster fire much of the NFL world believes it is.

“I still feel like there’s a lot of great reasons to come here,” Taylor said. “We believe we are headed in the right direction. Our players believe it. Our coaches believe it. The more we get around players we are interested in, they are going to believe it as well. …

“What we can control is we have been here and the players have been around us. The coaches talk to other coaches around the league. I think people can have that perception that players hear that stuff, but they also talk to other players who have been in this building. We feel like we’ve had a great impact on those guys and they believe in what we are doing and guys would feel that.”

There have been rookies that have come in and taken franchises to the next level, but it’s going to take much more than just Burrow to make the Bengals competitive again. Drafting him would be a huge step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if he will try to blockade the Bengals. 





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