Zac Taylor

Poll: Who Will Be First Head Coach To Lose Their Job?

We know, we know…it’s probably a bit early to speculate about the job security of NFL head coaches. However, let’s not forget Bum Phillips‘ famous (supposed) quote: “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”

[RELATED: The Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL]

Even with the start of the NFL season more than a month away, a handful of head coaches already find themselves on the hot seat. Nowadays, it isn’t all that hard to determine which head coaches are at risk of losing their jobs. You can pretty much remove the 12 first- and second-year coaches, and you can definitely remove the successful, long-term coaches (the likes of Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, etc.).

That leaves about 15 coaches with at least two years of tenure but fewer than eight years of tenure (yes, we chose eight to shoehorn Andy Reid into the “definitively safe” section but not the likes of Mike Zimmer). Have those coaches had successful teams? You can remove them from the list. Have those coaches continually shown improvement? You can probably remove them from the list, too. Have those coaches’ teams disappointed or underwhelmed, especially recently? Ding ding ding…those are the coaches on the hot seat.

As we all know, those on the hot seat either redeem themselves and save their jobs or…ultimately get canned. So, that brings us to today’s question: which head coach will be fired first? We used Bovada’s top-three options below, but we’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Matt Nagy, Bears

Following a 12-4 campaign to begin his coaching career, Nagy found his seat getting a bit warm following a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2019. The former Chiefs offensive coordinator didn’t do a whole lot to inspire confidence in 2020. The team finished 8-8 for a second-straight season, and the former QB whisperer found his passing offense ranking in the bottom-half of the NFL in most categories.

The Bears finally bailed on Mitchell Trubisky this past offseason, and they added a pair of QBs to replace him: veteran Andy Dalton and first-round pick Justin Fields. With a solid defense that’s in win-now mode, Nagy will have to get something out of one of these signal-callers if he hopes to retain his job. Considering Dalton’s recent play and Fields’ inexperience, things are looking bleak.

Zac Taylor, Bengals

It’s easy to put an asterisk on the Bengals’ 2020 campaign following the season-ending injury to Joe Burrow, but there’s no denying that Taylor’s staff has now collected an ugly 6-25-1 record through two seasons. There’s really nowhere to go but up for the head coach, but even if the Bengals improve their record in 2021, the team would still have to pass the smell test. Specifically, we should expect the offensive guru to guide Burrow and the rest of the offense to at least an above-average performance, and it’d be encouraging if the defense was able to show some progress after finishing as one of the worst units in the league in 2020.

As we saw with Marvin Lewis, the Bengals organization values continuity. It’s hard to envision the team not giving Taylor at least another full season, but if the team is unable to show any improvement over 2020, then the 38-year-old could find himself without a job.

Vic Fangio, Broncos

There are a number of things working against Fangio and his future in Denver. For starters, he hasn’t done a whole lot during his two seasons at the helm, leading the team to a 12-20 record. Making it worse, the team took a clear step back in 2020, and with a questionable roster on paper, it’s hard to envision the Broncos getting a whole lot better in 2021.

Next, GM George Paton was only recently hired, so he surely won’t be feeling pressure throughout the 2021 season. However, a disappointing campaign could change things. In that hypothetical, you can bet the executive would be looking to right the ship immediately, and that would probably start with the head coach.

The final factor is the uncertain status of Broncos ownership. If the team is ultimately sold, the new owners would presumably be looking to clean house, at least from an on-field perspective. That means Fangio would surely be handed his walking papers, even if the team did show some progress in 2021.

For reference, the next four head coaches listed by Bovada are Jon Gruden (Raiders), Mike Zimmer (Vikings), Matt LaFleur (Packers), and Mike McCarthy (Cowboys). Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Joe Burrow Expects To Be Ready For Week 1 Of 2021 Season

The Bengals ended the 2020 campaign on a sour note, a 38-3 blowout loss to the division-rival Ravens. Despite the defeat and the team’s 4-11-1 record, there were some bright spots, most notably the performance of rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow.

Burrow suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Cincinnati’s Week 11 loss to Washington, and he also sustained damage to his meniscus and PCL. Despite the gravity of the injury, Burrow expects to be ready for Week 1 of the 2021 season, as Ben Baby of ESPN.com details.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the injury, Burrow — who underwent surgery on December 2 — says he is past the worst part of his rehab. When asked about his prospects for the start of next season, the 24-year-old passer said, “I think I’ll be ready. I think it’ll be just fine.”

That’s obviously good news for Bengals fans, who are hoping their club can return to competitiveness in a talented AFC North. Reports from November indicated that Burrow was expected to return to action “right around” the start of the 2021 season, but given the extensiveness of the knee damage, there will continue to be concern about Burrow’s availability until he puts on the pads.

With a healthy Burrow in the fold, there is reason for optimism in the Queen City. The former LSU standout, along with RB Joe Mixon and wideouts Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, represent a strong core of skill-position talent, and full seasons from defensive players like D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes would also be a big help. There is still plenty of work to do along the offensive line and in the front seven, but there is at least a foundation to build upon.

There were some rumors that head coach Zac Taylor may not be given the chance to return for a third year at the helm, but team president Mike Brown quickly put an end to those rumblings earlier this week. Burrow, for one, is happy to see his HC return.

“I think Zac is going to be a great coach for a long time,” he said. “I’m happy to be in the position that I’m in and to help build this organization, but it’s going to be on Zac’s back. He’s the leader of what we’re trying to do, and he’s awesome.”

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Bengals To Keep Zac Taylor 

The Bengals will bring back Zac Taylor. On Monday, team president Mike Brown announced that the head coach will get a third season at the helm.

Our fans wanted a fresh new direction two years ago, and that is what we aimed to do in hiring a bright, energetic head coach in Zac Taylor,” Brown said in a statement. “We remain bullish on the foundation Zac is building, and we look forward to next year giving our fans the winning results we all want. In Zac’s two years, we have added many new starters and contributors through the draft, we have invested heavily in free agency, and we have acquired a talented young quarterback with a bright future.”

This season we faced challenges with injuries at key positions and missed opportunities. I am proud of our football team for fighting hard through adversity. That adversity and hard work will help us next season. We’ll enter the offseason looking to shore up our weaknesses and amplify the strengths of our talented young core. 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. We must capitalize on the opportunities in front of us. Next year we will earn our stripes.”

Taylor hasn’t had an easy two years in Cincinnati, but there was some encouraging progress in 2020. Despite closing out the year 4-11-1 with a lopsided loss to the Ravens, rookie Joe Burrow looked sharp before his season-ending injury. It’s also worth noting that they’ve been plagued by injuries across the board. On offense, they lost running back Joe Mixon and left tackle Jonah Williams. And, on the other side of the ball, defensive tackle D.J. Reader and cornerback Trae Waynes finished the year on IR.

The Bengals won’t be seeking a new head coach, but plenty of clubs will be. As of this writing, the vacancy list includes the Lions, Falcons, Texans, Jets, Jaguars, and Chargers.

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Zac Taylor Not Necessarily Safe?

The Bengals had some momentum with two straight upset victories the past two weeks, and the Ravens promptly vanquished that with a blowout win on Sunday. We had heard a few weeks ago that head coach Zac Taylor was likely to return for a third season, but that’s apparently not set in stone. 

Taylor “may not be as safe as some believe,” Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes. Florio adds “there’s a rumor making that rounds that Taylor could be out.” As for what Cincy could be plotting, Florio highlights the potential reunion between Joe Burrow and his college passing guru Joe Brady, who is now the OC in Carolina. Florio think that the Bengals could be spurred to make the plunge if they fear another team will hire Brady this cycle.

Taylor is now 6-25-1 in his first two seasons as coach, and while circumstances obviously haven’t been ideal it’s still hard to defend that record. Cincinnati went after him due to his association with Sean McVay after he spent a couple years on the Rams’ staff as an assistant. The 37-year-old had never been a head coach at any level before getting hired to replace Marvin Lewis.

As Florio points out, one thing working in Taylor’s favor is Bengals brass’ usual conservative nature when it comes to firing coaches. After all, they did keep Lewis around for 16 seasons, and the fact that he’d likely have millions coming his way could be what saves Taylor for another year. If he does stick around, he’ll need a major leap from Burrow and the rest of the team to buy him a fourth season.

Of course, there’s no guarantee Burrow is ready for Week 1 next year after tearing his ACL and damaging other ligaments, so it could be a tough job for whoever is roaming the sidelines in 2021. We should know more about Taylor’s status tomorrow.

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Bengals Likely To Keep Zac Taylor For 2021?

Although Zac Taylor‘s 4-23-1 record as Bengals head coach represents one of the worst all-time marks for a coach to start his career, he may not be in jeopardy of losing his job.

Not much buzz has emerged about Taylor being on the hot seat, according to Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. Unsurprisingly, Joe Burrow looms at the center of this discussion.

Rumors prior to the Bengals using the No. 1 overall pick centered around the Ohio native being uncertain about the Cincinnati franchise. Despite the severe knee injury the former LSU superstar suffered, Burrow has expressed fondness for his Bengals situation and the franchise’s future, per Fowler and Graziano.

It also does not hurt the Bengals are known for their patience. This was best displayed through Marvin Lewis lasting 16 years as Cincinnati’s head coach without winning a playoff game and David Shula winning 19 games in four-plus seasons. However, the Bengals did fire Dick LeBeau after two-plus seasons, bringing in Lewis. Should Taylor earn a third season, it would stand to reason his seat would be scorching-hot come 2021.

Burrow’s 10-game QBR figure ranks 24th, and the 2019 Heisman winner was in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year prior to going down. The Bengals, however, have ranked 30th and 29th in points scored under Taylor, who came to Cincinnati with limited play-calling experience. And among coaches who have coached since the 2019 season, Taylor’s four wins rank last. But he may benefit from multiple factors and receive a third year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Notes: Taylor, Turner, Casey, Martin

New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will call his own offensive plays, as he told reporters at his introductory press conference on Tuesday (Twitter link via Richard Skinner of WKRC-TV). Taylor was hired on the strength of his offensive acumen, so it’s no surprise that he’ll direct Cincinnati’s offense, leaving new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to serve in a game-planning role. Taylor, for what it’s worth, doesn’t boast much play-calling experience: he led the Dolphins’ offense for a half-season in 2015, and coordinated the University of Cincinnati’s offense the following year. Under former coordinator Bill Lazor, the Bengals’ offense ranked 17th in scoring, 19th in DVOA, and 26th in yardage in 2018.

Here’s more from the Queen City:

  • Taylor will hire Texas A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner for the same role, reports Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Turner has worked with Taylor at three different stops, so there’s obvious familiarity between the two. He’d be replacing Frank Pollack, with whom the Bengals parted ways despite his excellent efforts in 2018. Turner, notably, was Miami’s offensive line coach during the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying scandal, and was eventually fired in 2014 after an independent report indicated he participated in harassment of players. He was also suspended by Texas A&M in 2016 after using sexually-charged presentation slides during a women’s football clinic.
  • Former Texans tight end and current University of Houston tight ends coach James Casey will join the Bengals in the same role, while Ben Martin — who had recently been hired as an assistant offensive line coach at Brown — will take over as Cincinnati’s assistant OL coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Casey is only 34 years old, and was still playing as recently as 2015. He joined Houston as an offensive assistant in 2016 and became tight ends coach the following year. Martin, meanwhile, worked at Texas A&M with Taylor.
  • Among the Bengals coaches who are expected to be retained under Taylor are Alex Van Pelt (quarterbacks), Dan Pitcher (assistant quarterbacks), Bob Bicknell (wide receivers), Robert Livingston (secondary), Daronte Jones (secondary), and Brayden Coombs (assistant secondary), per Dehner. Coombs, notably, was thought to be a candidate for the Packers’ special teams coordinator position, but he’ll instead remain in Cincinnati.

Bengals Officially Hire Zac Taylor

The Bengals officially have their new coach. On Monday, the Bengals announced the hiring of Zac Taylor, the former quarterbacks coach of the Rams. 

I am happy and fortunate to join the Cincinnati Bengals as head coach,” Taylor said in a press release. “This is a great organization with good people and a rich history, and I am excited to get started. I am looking to add to that history by setting high standards, and holding everyone here accountable to those standards. There is a lot of work to do, and this is day one. We’re going to attack every day with enthusiasm to get this team ready to go.”

Taylor’s Rams fell flat in the Super Bowl, but he had a major role in overseeing one of the league’s most potent offenses in 2018. The Rams won the NFC West with a 13-3 regular-season record and reached new heights, despite their overall youth.

Zac is a bright coach with an offensive mind and background, which is important to have in today’s NFL,” said Bengals president Mike Brown. “And he’s young. He embraces new ideas and new ways to do things, which will be a good thing for us. I believe our team will be exciting and fun to watch with him at the helm.”

Taylor is now the tenth coach in Bengals history, replacing the long-tenured Marvin Lewis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Staff Notes: Bills, Taylor, 49ers, Ryan, Eagles

Another former Panthers assistant will land a job on the Bills‘ coaching staff. Buffalo hired Ken Dorsey to be its quarterbacks coach. A former Miami Hurricane standout, prior to his days with the 49ers and Browns, Dorsey spent five seasons as the Panthers’ QBs coach. In 2018, the 37-year-old coach was on Appalachian State’s staff. Dorsey will take over for David Culley, who is now on Baltimore’s staff. The Bills also promoted Chad Hall to wide receivers coach. The 32-year-old former NFLer spent his first two seasons in coaching as a Bills offensive assistant. Another hire the Bills announced this week: bringing in Terry Heffernan to be their assistant offensive line coach. Heffernan has NFL coaching experience, being a Lions staffer earlier this decade, but spent the past three years at Division I-FCS Eastern Kentucky. Heffernan coached under new Bills offensive line coach Bobby Johnson in Detroit.

None of the offensive coaches who have been hired or promoted have a direct tie to second-year OC Brian Daboll, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Two teams have yet to hire their head coaches, but the Bengals will look to finalize their agreement with Zac Taylor soon after Super Bowl LIII. The Rams’ quarterbacks coach will travel to Cincinnati on Monday, with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweeting the parties will make their pending partnership official.
  • Rob Ryan initiated the process that ended with him becoming the Redskins‘ new inside linebackers coach. The former defensive coordinator said Kirk Olivadotti‘s decision to take a job with the Packers prompted him to reach out to the Redskins about a job, Ryan said on NBC Sports Washington‘s Redskins Talk podcast. Ryan interviewed with the Redskins twice in the past but has never worked with the franchise.
  • Kyle Shanahan was a bit surprised teams aggressively pursued members of his coaching staff, considering the 49ers went 4-12 this season. “It was a little unexpected,” Shanahan said during an interview with KNBR (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “I didn’t think our staff was going to get raided after a 4-12 year, so that caught me off a little bit.” The Broncos did the main raiding, hiring Rich Scangarello and T.C. McCartney. The Packers also hired Adam Stenavich to become their offensive line coach. Shanahan also denied permission for the Vikings and Packers to interview Mike LaFleur and did not allow Mike McDaniel to speak with the Cardinals, citing neither offensive assistant being up for a play-calling role with one of those teams.
  • San Francisco also lost another assistant, but this time to the college ranks. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will become the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
  • The Eagles will swap out assistant offensive line coaches. After Eugene Chung‘s contract expired, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro notes the Eagles will hire Roy Istvan to replace him. Istvan will come all the way up from the NAIA level, having coached most recently at Florida’s Keiser University. However, he spent time with Philadelphia offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland in the distant past, playing for Stoutland at Southern Connecticut in the 1980s and then breaking into coaching during Stoutland’s stay as that program’s OC. This will be Istvan’s first NFL job.

Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

With the NFL now in the two-week waiting period until its final meaningful game, 30 of the 32 teams are going through offseason motions. And some of those teams are still deciding on coordinators.

Unless another Patriots assistant reneges on an agreement post-Super Bowl, or Zac Taylor makes an 11th-hour decision to remain in Los Angeles rather than taking over in Cincinnati, the eight NFL teams in need of head coaches made their choices.

So, which franchise best positioned itself for long-term success?

The trend being offensive innovation to keep up with some of the ahead-of-the-curve offenses, six of the eight teams hired offensively oriented coaches.

By a substantial margin, the Cardinals won the outside-the-box trophy. After washing out as an NFL quarterback in the mid-2000s, Kliff Kingsbury spent more than a decade as a college coach. The 39-year-old groomed some sought-after NFL talent in Patrick Mahomes, Case Keenum and Davis Webb, while also bringing Baker Mayfield to Texas Tech for a short stay. But he finished his stay in Lubbock, Texas, with a sub-.500 record. The Cards added Vance Joseph and Tom Clements to be his top assistants. Because of their unconventional hire, the Cardinals will be one of the most interesting teams in 2019.

Bruce Arians‘ CBS stay lasting one year will bring one of the more interesting coaches in modern NFL history back to the sideline. Tampa Bay’s new coach is the oldest ever hired, at 66 years old. Arians will be tethered to Jameis Winston, and it does not sound like he has issues with that. Arians hired several former Cardinals assistants to help him attempt to snap the NFC’s longest active playoff drought. Arians led the Cardinals to their best season, record-wise (13-3 in 2015), since the franchise has been in Arizona but is also barely a year removed from retiring.

The Packers and Browns opted for OCs, the former seeing a major difference in Matt LaFleur‘s vision than those of the other coaches that interviewed. Cleveland made the biggest continuity move of this year’s HC-seeking octet,promoting Freddie Kitchens over candidates with more experience.

LaFleur’s Titans offense regressed from Mike Mularkey‘s final unit, with Tennessee ranking 27th in points scored last season. But the 39-year-old coach, who will be working with ex-Jaguars assistant Nathaniel Hackett in overseeing the back end of Aaron Rodgers‘ prime, trained under Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Kitchens rose from position coach to head coach in less than three months, but Mayfield’s performance in the second half of the season was obviously different from his play under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.

Taylor and Adam Gase round out the offensively geared hires, the former being perhaps the highest-variance candidate among the non-Kingsbury wing.

Although Taylor was the Dolphins’ interim OC in 2015 and McVay’s quarterbacks coach this season, he spent 2016 running a Cincinnati Bearcats offense that ranked 123rd (out of 128 Division I-FBS teams) with 19.3 points per game for a 4-8 team and was the Rams’ assistant wideouts coach as recently as 2017. Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016, but Ryan Tannehill‘s issues staying healthy and living up to his draft slot limited the former Broncos and Bears OC. The Jets saw enough to add the formerly in-demand assistant, who may be ready to bring longtime coworker Dowell Loggains with him to the Big Apple.

Denver and Miami went with defense, with the Broncos having no competition for 2018’s assistant coach of the year and, arguably, this decade’s top DC.

The Dolphins cancelled their Vic Fangio summit, and he will be in charge of elevating a Broncos team that finished with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the early 1970s. John Elway‘s plan to reinstall Gary Kubiak as OC also hit a snag, with the longtime friends’ disagreement on staffing leading to the Broncos hiring 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello. The Dolphins will become the fifth franchise to hire a Bill Belichick-era Patriots defensive coordinator (or de facto DC, in Brian Flores‘ case), following the Browns (Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini), Jets (Mangini), Chiefs (Crennel) and Lions (Matt Patricia). Flores helped the Patriots to yet another top-10 ranking in points allowed — their 15th in the past 18 seasons — and another Super Bowl berth.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

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