Since the day it was reported that the Cincinnati Bengals were going to name former Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor as their head coach, people have wondered what that would mean for Andy Dalton.
Would Taylor come in with the mindset he would help elevate Dalton to the best version of himself or want to start fresh with a new quarterback?
It’s still too early to know one way or the other for sure, but Taylor made it clear this week following the official announcement of his hiring that he thinks Dalton could fit into his system.
“I have a high opinion of Andy Dalton going back to 2010,” Taylor said. “I think I watched every snap he played at TCU his senior year when I was at Texas A&M (as an assistant). It was an offense I really admired, and he executed it flawlessly, to be quite honest with you. I’ve been familiar with him. He’s from Katy, Texas, and I was in Texas for four years. I know all about his background. I probably never pictured I was going to coach him, but I’m very fortunate he’s the quarterback here and I’m excited to work with him. I think he’s a great fit for what we’re going to do offensively.”
Dalton shared some of his thoughts on Taylor in a video interview posted on Bengals.com and said “it’s huge” to hear the respect his new head coach has for him. The two met earlier this week when Taylor was first brought on board.
“I feel like we hit it off right from the start,” Dalton told Bengals.com. “He’s going to be a great guy to work with and work for. The big thing will be getting everyone to buy into it, but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”
Taylor plans to call the plays on game days and will work closely with new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, who served as Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2018.
The offense will look similar to the West Coast style that Sean McVay successfully ran as head coach of the Rams, which Taylor was a part of for two years — beginning in 2017 as a wide receivers coach. Bringing in guys like Callahan, who share ideas from experiences with other teams, will help shape the offense into what fits best for the Bengals, Taylor said.
“Well, it works,” Taylor said of the Rams’ offense. “I think we can all agree (laughs). It would be silly not to have that as the basis of what we do on offense. It’s important to bring in other coaches from other organizations that have different influences and different backgrounds, so we can make this the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense. That was a prolific offense we were a part of this year (with the Rams). It would be silly to scrap that to the side, so that will be a big part of what we do.”
The Rams’ offense finished the 2018 regular season ranked second in the NFL in total net yards (421.1 per game), fifth in net passing yards (281.7), second in scoring (32.9), first in first downs (401) and fifth in third-down percentage (45.0), and Los Angeles won the NFC West en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
Dalton, for one, is excited about the possibilities with the new offense.
“You want to be an attacking offense,” he told Bengals.com. “You want to do things that aren’t always the norm, kind of outside the box and with everything he’s been saying, we’re going to be creative in what we do. We are going to go after defenses, and for an offense, that’s exactly what you want to do.”
It also helps Dalton that Callahan was able to work with a veteran quarterback in Detroit when he was on staff with the Lions in 2016 and 2017. Matthew Stafford had two of his best seasons under Callahan.
Taylor helped mold a young quarterback in Jared Goff the past two years, but said Dalton shares some similarities with the 24-year-old Rams starter.
“I’ve seen Andy do all of the things we’ve asked (Goff) to do here,” Taylor said. “He’s great under center, great in play action, great on the perimeter and the nakeds, and he’s been an accurate passer when asked to drop back. I know he’s smart, I’ve followed his whole career since his time back at TCU. He’s a great fit for what we are going to do. He and Jared are very similar personality-wise, they are very smart, players flock to them. So, excited to get to work with him.”
Taylor hadn’t had much time to study up on the Bengals roster prior to this week, as he was preparing for the Super Bowl with the Rams, but used a lot of time leading up to his introductory press conference Tuesday reviewing film.
Being a late hire (the Bengals job was the last vacancy to be filled of the eight this offseason) puts him a little behind in evaluating the players heading into free agency but Taylor said with the NFL Combine coming up that will help determine what kind of talent is coming up through the draft and “there’s going to be plenty of time” to make decisions on current players.
So far, he likes what he has to work with.
“There’s a lot of talent in place (here), and a lot of different ways you can be creative,” Taylor said. “I’m excited with the personnel we have. I try not to get too far ahead of myself, because we do have some time to get the scheme organized the way we want to do it. There are some exciting pieces (here), … some great players who — trust me — I can picture how to use them different ways. I’m excited to get our hands on those guys and get to work with them.”