Katherine TerrellESPN Staff WriterClose
- Joined ESPN in 2016
- Previously covered the Saints for the Times-Picayune from 2013-2016
The Bengals honed in on Taylor several weeks ago, but they could not hire him until the Rams were eliminated from the playoffs. Los Angeles advanced to Super Bowl LIII and lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Taylor, 35, will be the second-youngest coach in the league behind his former boss, 33-year-old Sean McVay. Taylor, the 10th head coach in Bengals history, is expected to hire Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, 34, as his offensive coordinator.
“I am happy and fortunate to join the Cincinnati Bengals as head coach,” Taylor said in a statement. “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 1. We’re going to attack every day with enthusiasm to get this team ready to go.”
Taylor has been with the Rams since 2017, when he was hired as an assistant wide receivers coach before his promotion to quarterbacks this coach season. He previously spent one year in the college ranks as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Cincinnati. Taylor was also with the Miami Dolphins as an assistant from 2012 to 2015 and was the Dolphins’ interim offensive coordinator at the end of the 2015 season.
Taylor’s hire could be good news for Andy Dalton: He had a successful start to the season under new quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, who is expected to stay in Cincinnati. Dalton didn’t sustain his success due to numerous injuries on offense. Taylor’s work with Rams quarterback Jared Goff was praised this year, as Goff posted the best numbers of his career during a Super Bowl season.
“Zac’s been great for me. First of all, him playing the position, being a quarterback, is something I think is extremely valuable as far as different things that you can’t know or won’t ever know [unless you played],” Goff said last week of Taylor, who started for two seasons at Nebraska. “He can relate in that way where he’s done it and he understands it, and he’s also been around in different systems and understands different things.
“I think his communication as well, something that Sean is so good at, I think in the same way Zac is so good at communication and being open and honest, and willing to listen, even if it’s the wrong things, he’s willing to listen, and he has a bright future.”
The Bengals are starting a new era for the franchise by essentially cleaning house and going with an offensive coach after standing by Marvin Lewis, who had a defensive background, for 16 seasons.
It’s a dramatic shift for an organization whose previous three coaches were all at least 45 at the time of their hiring. The Bengals named 32-year-old Dave Shula as head coach in 1992, but he was fired midseason in 1996 following four losing seasons.
This is also the second straight hire outside of the organization. Before the 2003 hiring of Lewis, who was the Baltimore Ravens‘ defensive coordinator, the Bengals had not gone outside of the organization since Mike Brown took over the team in 1991.
The Bengals parted ways with Lewis in January. Although Lewis took the Bengals to the playoffs seven times, including five straight years between 2011 and 2015, he failed to win a postseason game. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since the 1990 season.
Declining ticket sales were likely a factor in the decision after attendance severely dipped in 2018 after three straight non-winning seasons.
This is also the first hire in which Brown’s daughter Katie Blackburn took a primary role. Brown headed the previous search in 2003. Blackburn will inherit the Bengals one day and has taken the role in running the majority of day-to-day operations alongside her husband, Troy Blackburn, and Brown’s son, Paul.
“Zac is a bright coach with an offensive mind and background, which is important to have in today’s NFL,” Mike Brown said. “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.”
In addition to Van Pelt, special-teams coordinator Darrin Simmons will stay on the Bengals staff.
ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.