For Cincinnati Bengals fans, last season provided a tremendously successful outcome. For head coach Zac Taylor, it’s important to grow, ensuring 2022 doesn’t end with a loss. And growing becomes more difficult with Cincinnati reaching the top of the conference last season.
In three NFL seasons at the helm, Taylor sports a 16-32-1 record. Ten of those wins came in 2021. But the Bengals shed the underdog persona with the immediate success of a healthy Joe Burrow in his second season. Upsetting the Chiefs to clinch the AFC North, then defeating Kansas City in overtime to win the AFC Championship Game put Cincinnati on the map again.
Previewing the team’s road toward redemption in an interview with team writer Geoff Hobson, Taylor knows this season’s hurdles differ from any beast the franchise has seen in recent years. Taylor says, “We know we’re not going to surprise anybody. I can’t speak for other teams, I don’t know if we surprised them or not. I hope they saw a good team on tape in Week 1. But this year, certainly, I think people are more aware of the type of team we can be, and we have to prove that.”
The line implies Taylor knows the target on the back of successful teams looms large, even after Super Bowl defeat. In a contentious division known for beating the snot out of each other, the road for Cincinnati includes a first place schedule without the underdog benefits.
Taylor also comments, “We have a lot of work yet to go to make sure we can meet our own expectations and continue to raise our standard. That it just doesn’t come based on what you did the previous year.”
Zac Taylor Doesn’t Have to Worry About Joe Burrow’s Continuing Development
While the team improved ten-fold over the course of the last season, Taylor’s coaching performance with and without quarterback Joe Burrow exemplifies the importance of the position. Luckily for the head coach, it appears the 25-year-old enters training camp more prepared than ever.
The coach says, “He doesn’t hesitate to ask questions, whereas some guys in the NFL will ‘yessir’ you to death that they understand when they really don’t.” Burrow showing up to training camp strong and sharp is the first step for Cincinnati to break down the barriers of repeating as AFC Champions in 2022.