CINCINNATI – Zac Taylor was named head coach of the Bengals on February 4, 2019. The organization held their introductory press conference a day later.
The first-time head coach made one thing clear during the 30-minute media session: he was going to have a direct line of communication with his players.
Taylor insisted on building a foundation and a winning culture. Quality communication was one of his main priorities.
“Communication, character – those are two things this thing will be built on,” Taylor said. “Culture drives the program. Everyone plays the same pieces, the X’s and O’s are all the same, but people dress a little differently. If everyone is playing for each other then great things are going to happen for us. ”
Taylor used a variation of the word communicate five times during his press conference. It was something he emphasized. It sounded good at the time. Unfortunately for the Bengals, the second-year head coach has failed in this area for the past 623 days.
Taylor had a rough first season which included Cordy Glenn drama. Former franchise quarterback Andy Dalton was anything but happy to be on the bench.
Most dismissed these problems as growth problems. Taylor was reestablishing a culture that had grown bitter under Marvin Lewis.
Those same issues bled into the 2020 season.
Auden Tate’s agent has made public his frustration with the coaching staff after the third-year catcher was inactive in week 2.
Carlos Dunlap has repeatedly called the organization and the coaching staff. He was taken out of the starting lineup ahead of the Bengals’ game against the Ravens in Week 5. The two-time Pro Bowler questioned the lack of communication between him and the coaching staff.
“They just put a depth chart on the board. They didn’t really speak to me, ”said a frustrated Dunlap. “Looks like it’s not going to be me in there. I think they want a different stop. I think I can give them that. “
Taylor denied communication was a problem and attributed it to Dunlap being frustrated with the demotion.
“We always do things to put ourselves in the best position. Sometimes that can lead to frustration and that’s OK, ”Taylor said. “I am very confident in the way we communicate things.
The problems do not end there. Eight-time Pro Bowler Geno Atkins is reportedly frustrated with his role after playing just 19 shots in each of the last two games.
Coaching staff say he’s still recovering from a shoulder injury. They have used Atkins sparingly for the past two weeks.
But wait, there is more.
Darius Phillips and Shawn Williams took to social media to express their frustration last week.
On Tuesday, a report was released that John Ross was unhappy with his role. He is open to a trade if the team is not going to give him an opportunity in attack.
Who could blame him? He played a snap in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. He was a healthy scratch in 3-4 weeks and watched Mike Thomas fumble in Baltimore and lose two assists in Indianapolis.
Good communication would eliminate most of these problems. Instead, the foundational program that Taylor was supposed to be built on is crumbling right before our eyes.
Taylor prides himself on being an excellent communicator. Not just with the players, but with the whole organization.
This has not happened since he took the job. Instead of being a strength, it is a weakness.
Even AJ Green – who always behaved the right way for a decade – became frustrated with his lack of production in attack.
It’s one thing to get excited about losing. It’s another for kids like Tate and Ross to be frustrated with their lack of involvement. Add to that the issues veterans have had with the coaching staff and there is a clear pattern.
What Taylor is trying to do is much easier said than done. It’s hard to go from one regime to another and rebuild on the fly without upsetting a few veteran players.
But it’s not just a few guys.
It’s a trend. It started last season and continues into 2020. The frustration will only get worse with each loss.
The root of the problem is communication.
The coaching staff didn’t tell Ross what he needed to do to get back on the pitch. They haven’t given Dunlap a clear answer on how he can get back to his starting job, even though Sam Hubbard is on the casualty reserve.
Lose odors. It’s tough for any locker room. Not communicating properly with respected veterans on the team makes it much more difficult.
Taylor should go back and watch the tape of his introductory press conference. It can help her turn things around before it’s too late.
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