Zac Taylors Explanation For Taking Ball Out Of Joe Burrows Hands Falls Flat

Through four games on the way to a 3-1 start, the Cincinnati Bengals had developed a reputation as a pedal-to-the-floor offense that wanted to be aggressive at nearly all times.

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With Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in town over the weekend, that suddenly changed and the Bengals lost a winnable game against a contender while Zac Taylor repeatedly took the ball out of Joe Burrow’s hands in key moments.

Near the end of the game, Taylor opted for a handoff to Samaje Perine on a 3rd-and-5 attempt that set up a 57-yard field goal, which Evan McPherson missed.

And on a notable overtime drive, Taylor opted to call three straight running plays to set up a 49-yard kick that missed (three straight runs after a superb 21-yard catch by Ja’Marr Chase, bringing his total to 159 yards and a score, no less).

Asked about the odd approach after the game, Taylor said the following:

“At the end particularly, when it’s a game-winning field goal, that’s the difference. Had it been in the normal part of the game, we’d be more aggressive because we want to go score the touchdown. We just felt Evan was going to give us an opportunity to win, so let’s put him in a good position to do it. It just didn’t go our way today.”

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So to be clear, Taylor intentionally took his foot off the gas with the game on the line. The ball went to Perine and a rookie fifth-round kicker instead of Burrow and Chase (or Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, C.J. Uzomah).

And look, if Burrow doesn’t throw an ugly pick at one point, maybe Taylor feels more confident about his chances. Maybe he was worried Burrow would take off and not slide again, risking his health. If Higgins doesn’t drop a few key passes, ditto. If McPherson nails a kick, this isn’t as noteworthy of a conversation.

But the excuses aren’t a good enough reason to explain taking the ball out of Burrow’s hands with the game on the line. He’s the guy who checked into a game-winning play against the Vikings. He did it again last week against Jacksonville. He might’ve done it again with the Packers in town — had he even been given the chance. Those plays set up game-winning kicks and this time out, Taylor opted for predictable handoffs.

Make no mistake — the opposing sideline does a silent cheer in key situations like this when the ball is inexplicably not in Burrow’s hands.

Most importantly, he’s the No. 1 pick. He’s Joey Franchise. He’s their LeBron-tier prospect. He’s the guy who has flirted with the generational prospect tag and looked like a top-10 passer even though he has yet to even play in 16 games. He’s the guy flanked by what might be the best wideout group in the league and Chase, who looks like a top-five wideout. You live and die with his mistakes. If he goes out and makes a mistake in a key moment against the Packers, cool, hard to complain — at least he had a chance.

But taking the ball out of his hands with the game on the line so a backup running back can get a rushing attempt? He never got a chance, or rather, all the chances when it mattered most, and that’s what stings the most coming out of a game that otherwise was pretty encouraging, as these young Bengals showed they can hang with the best teams in the league.


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Zac Taylors explanation for taking ball out of Joe Burrows hands falls flat


Zac Taylors explanation for taking ball out of Joe Burrows hands falls flat