The new head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals is expected to be Los Angeles Rams QB coach Zac Taylor, ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Thursday night. Taylor is the club's top choice, and the former University of Cincinnati offensive coordinator has strong feelings about returning to the city, according to the report, though nothing can become official until the Rams' postseason run concludes.
Taylor, 35, spent the past two seasons on Sean McVay's staff, first as assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 before working directly with Jared Goff as the club's QB coach this past season. Taylor would become the second coach with ties to McVay hired this offseason, joining the Green Bay Packers' Matt LaFleur.
McVay, 32, joked recently that he's too young to have an NFL coaching tree, but it's clear numerous clubs in the league are enamored in attempting to find their own version of the wunderkind and reigning Coach of the Year.
Taylor, 35, is a former Big 12 Player of the Year and member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame. He set numerous school records as the Cornhuskers quarterback in 2005-06 before going undrafted to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and also spending time with the CFL's Winnipeg Bombers.
Taylor has only five games of NFL coordinating experience, acquired at the end of his four-year run with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, when he replaced Bill Lazor under interim HC Dan Campbell. Taylor was Ryan Tannehill's QB coach for three-plus years before spending the '16 season with the Bearcats.
Taylor cut his coaching teeth on Mike Sherman's Texas A&M staff, first as a grad assistant, then as tight ends coach before arriving in the NFL. He's set to replace Marvin Lewis, who was the second-longest tenured coach at the time of his firing following 16 seasons with the Bengals.
Much like McVay and LaFleur, Taylor is regarded as a young, innovative offensive mind. Of the eight head-coach openings this offseason, seven have been filled, with Taylor becoming the sixth boasting an offensive background and fourth below the age of 41.
The Bengals began the season 4-1 prior to losing nine of their final 11 games and firing Lewis, who missed the postseason in his final three years following a five-year streak — and six out of seven years — in the playoffs.
It's unclear whether Taylor would inherit Andy Dalton, the team's starter behind center the past eight seasons still in search of his first playoff victory. The Bengals potentially could free up $16 million by cutting Dalton, who finished 2018 on I.R. with a thumb injury, his second season cut short by injury since 2015.