Zac Taylor returning for third season with Bengals; ‘Next year we will earn our stripes’

CINCINNATI — Following a 4-11-1 season, and rumors swirling about his future, the Cincinnati Bengals announced head coach Zac Taylor will return next year for his third season at the helm.

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“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,” Bengals President Mike Brown said in a statement posted to the team’s website Monday morning.

“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.”

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Taylor’s record in his first two years as head coach is 6-25-1. Despite his record, Brown cited injuries and other adversity as part of the reason Taylor will see at least a third season with the franchise.

“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,” Brown said in the statement.

One of those injuries mentioned included the season-ending knee injury to rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who showed promise as the franchise’s star before his injury Nov. 22 against Washington.

“Black Monday,” the first day after the conclusion of the NFL’s regular season named for when many coaches are fired, has already had three casualties, one involving a coach with a better record than Taylor during the same timeframe.

The New York Jets fired Adam Gase Sunday after going 9-23 in two seasons. Monday, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired Doug Marrone after a 5-year-run and a record of 23-43, including 7-25 in the last two seasons.

Also on Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers fired coach Anthony Lynn after four seasons and a 33-31 record.

In addition to the Jets, Jaguars, and Chargers, the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, and Detroit Lions will all be looking for their new head coach during the offseason after making coaching changes earlier in the year.

But with Taylor returning for his third season, he’ll face increasing pressure to show that the Bengals are pointing towards being a playoff contender, especially as the other three teams in their division, the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens, all achieved playoff berths in 2020.

Brown added that the team remains committed to improving the team, citing successes in the NFL Draft in the last few years and investments made in free agency.

“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,” Brown said.

“We must capitalize on the opportunities in front of us. Next year we will earn our stripes.”