3 Coaches the Bengals Could Hire to Replace Zac Taylor

Max Staley
Three head coaches that could replace Zac Taylor if the Cincinnati Bengals decide to move on.
Three head coaches that could replace Zac Taylor if the Cincinnati Bengals decide to move on. / Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals had one job this year: protect Joe Burrow. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner looked like a legitimate superstar in his rookie season, but he suffered a torn ACL in Week 11 that will cut his 2020 campaign short and could force him to miss time in 2021 as well.

It's hard to assign blame for a freak injury, but head coach Zac Taylor shouldn't get off scot free here. He was inexplicably asking Burrow to throw more passes per game than any other quarterback in football entering Week 11, despite putting him behind an offensive line that was the league's sixth-worst pass-blocking unit, according to Pro Football Focus.

Taylor was playing with fire. And as a result, Burrow was sacked 32 times – the third most in the NFL. With Carson Palmer, Bengals fans found out the hard way that just one bad hit can change the course of a career. Asking Burrow to carry that load behind that offensive line was coaching malpractice.

Amid other concerning reports around the Bengals' culture, it wouldn't be a shock to see Cincinnati move on after the season. Here are three candidates the organization could hire to replace Taylor.

3. Brandon Staley, DC, Los Angeles Rams

Pairing Burrow with a skill-position group this good should make the offense a top-10 unit for the next decade. But you can't say the same for the defense. There are no shortage of statistics that prove just how inept Cincinnati has been on that side of the ball, and they currently check in as the league's third-worst defense in Football Outsiders' DVOA metrics. If the Bengals want to address that, Brandon Staley is their man. In his first-ever season as a defensive coordinator, Staley has lifted a defense that ranked No. 17 in points allowed and No. 13 in yards last season to No. 2 in points and No. 1 in yards in 2020. It's fair to point out that the Rams' defense is immensely talented, but they were last year too, and Staley has gotten the most out of his guys. And before you ask, no, we're not related. But with the payday he's going to get in the offseason, I sure wish we were.

2. Eric Bienemy, OC, Kansas City Chiefs

Of course, pairing Burrow with an offensive mind as accomplished as Eric Bienemy could be too tempting to pass up. The Kansas City Chiefs have finished as a top-five scoring offense in each of his three seasons as the team's OC. He also played an integral role in transforming Patrick Mahomes from a wildly talented, raw prospect into the most dangerous QB in football. It's hard not to wonder what he could do with a player like Burrow.

1. Joe Brady, OC, Carolina Panthers

Everything Joe Brady touches turns to gold. His 2019 LSU Tigers were arguably the best offense the NCAA has ever seen. The 2020 Carolina Panthers rank No. 7 in offensive DVOA despite Christian McCaffrey missing most of the season and Teddy Bridgewater looking like a league-average QB. Reuniting Burrow with the man who helped lead him to his 2019 Heisman Trophy and National Championship almost makes too much sense.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.